'Vile and filthy': N.S. cabinet minister speaks out against homophobic attacks
A Nova Scotia cabinet minister is speaking out about homophobic attacks she says she endures with disturbing regularity.
Joanne Bernard, the minister responsible for Community Services and Nova Scotia’s first openly gay MLA, says the hate speech is still routine, nearly two years after she was elected.
“I have had vile and filthy language spewed at me through the Internet, and quite frankly, it's disgusting,” Bernard said.
"Not threats per se, but certainly derogatory and filthy language used at me not based on my ability, not based on my gender, not based on my decisions as a minister, purely based on the fact that I'm a lesbian,” she said.
Speaking out just after the close of the Halifax Pride Festival, Bernard says the attacks don’t just come through social media, but also in phone calls, emails and more.
In one instance, the homophobia was conveyed to her through a YouTube video.
“I'm not going to tell you what was said, but I had to share a video with staff, the RCMP, the police, legislative folk,” Bernard said.
“It's extraordinarily embarrassing to me. It's distressing, and quite frankly, it's disappointing."
Willem Blois, chair of the Halifax Pride organizing committee, says he’s disappointed too, but not necessarily surprised.
"I do know that people in positions like Minister Bernard, I think they're much more on the ground, working throughout communities and maybe in more rural communities than we're reaching right now, so that might be why she's been targeted,” he said.
The most recent hateful message, says Bernard, was sent to her constituency office just two weeks ago following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.
"I can take criticism on decisions I've made. I can take criticisms on policy decisions or government decisions,” she said.
“But when it comes to who I go home to each night, that's nobody's business and they certainly have no right to judge me or criticize me or to be vile to me in any way, shape or form."
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko