As recent events show, prejudice and discrimination against members of the LGBTQ2+ community are ever-present.

Wednesday is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. To mark the occasion, the group Fondation Émergence is launching an awareness campaign focused on irrational fears.

Nanopabulophobia: the fear of garden gnomes with wheelbarrows. Alektorophobia: the fear of chickens. Fructophobia, the fear of fruit.

The colourful posters with zany images aim to capture the attention of passersby across the province.

"In science, a phobia is an irrational conception of a danger that does not exist. [Like] being afraid of having peanut butter stuck to your mouth," explained Laurent Breault, executive director of Fondation Émergence. "Homophobia and transphobia are all irrational fears, except that the latter two have impacts on the communities they target."

The rather humorous campaign, designed with a retro style to illustrate how sexual discrimination is "a thing of the past," contrasts with the organization's previous, darker displays.

"Before, our goal was to break the kind of bubble that everything is beautiful, that there are no more problems, when there is still violence against people in the LGBTQ2+ community," Breault said.

"This time, we chose a different tone to target the silent allies, people who support the LGBTQ2+ cause and don't necessarily know how to express their support."


It's thanks to the founder of Fondation Émergence, Laurent McCutcheon, that the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia was created, said Breault.

Since then, the initiative has been adopted by more than 100 countries worldwide.

But even 20 years later, a day like this is still needed, he added.

"In twenty years, there have been many achievements [...] I'm thinking of civil unions and same-sex marriages, the inclusion of gender identity and expression as grounds for discrimination, the banning of conversion therapies," said Breault. "But despite these advances at the political level, there is still a long way to go at the social level. There are still many prejudices."

The foundation commissioned a study of 1,539 Canadians by the firm Léger last February, in which 42 per cent of respondents said they were indifferent to or did not understand the cause of LGBTQ2+ communities.

What's more, 32 per cent of Quebec respondents said they were uncomfortable seeing two men kiss.

"We would have thought there would be more buy-in to the cause," Breault lamented. "But this is an opportunity to raise awareness and make allies out of these people."

The survey also found that transphobia and homophobia are carried out widely on social media, where 52 per cent of LGBTQ2+ youth say they've experience bullying, sometimes to the point of suicidal thoughts.

According to another survey by the Jasmin Roy Sophie Desmarais Foundation, 52 per cent of LGBTQ2+ people wouldn't disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity at work for fear of being discriminated against, excluded or bullied,

"You would think that workplaces would be safe and inclusive zones, but that doesn't seem to be the case," said Breault.

Despite this, he points out that Quebec is a safer and more open place for LGBTQ2+ communities, unlike many countries around the world -- include 14 within the Francophonie -- where being gay or trans is either criminalized or punishable by death.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 17, 2023.