The Montreal Pride Festival begin its 15th year of celebrations onMonday.

Fierté Montréal is taking the opportunity to lay out the demands of LGBTQ+ communities, beginning with a request for more organization funding.

Simon Gamache, executive director of Fierté Montréal, says a lack of resources means more than 150 LGBTQ+ organizations in Quebec risk losing their employees as soon as a given project ends.

"It doesn't ensure sustainability," he said. "We're hoping for adequate funding so we can really think long-term."

The funding of these organizations, which offer mental and sexual health services, tops the list of 10 demands drawn up by Fierté Montréal, based on two years of work with the Conseil québécois LGBT.

Among them are also demands related to HIV.

"There are different treatments that allow people to live with HIV," said Gamache. "However, the RAMQ [Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec] does not cover these treatments. This is very problematic, because these treatments allow people living with HIV to have a better quality of life."

In the same vein, Fierté Montréal would like to see the decriminalization of HIV non-disclosure.

"With the right drugs, you can be untransmissible and undetectable. But if you don't tell your partner that you are living with HIV, you can end up behind bars, which is an aberration given the evolution of research," Gamache explained.

The Montreal Pride Festival will take place in conjunction with the 24th International AIDS Conference, AIDS 2022.

Like many, Gamache criticized the Canadian government's denial of visas for many AIDS 2022 speakers.

"We're talking about high-level researchers, for example. It's completely absurd," he said.

The pride festival has been confronted with the same problem.

An Angolan artist could not get her visa to participate in the festival, as well as the activist Joseph Messinga Ngonka, who is the honorary co-president of Fierté Montréal this year.

"One of our co-presidents is from Cameroon and was also coming for the international conference on AIDS. It's July 31st, he's still at home and he's been waiting for his visa for months. If he gets it, we will welcome him with open arms," said Gamache.

Other demands include public recognition of systemic racism and a commitment to fight discrimination.

"Unfortunately, the Quebec government has not yet publicly recognized systemic racism. We think that's really the basis of everything," Gamache said.

He also wants to see changes in the school curriculum in terms of sex education.

"There is less and less sexuality education in Quebec schools, but also, for what exists, it's making sure that we don't just talk about male-female."

Gamache noted that many people, especially young folks, are becoming more open to the expression of fluid identities.

However, for LGBTQ+ seniors, the situation can be quite different.

"We're talking about people who may go to a CHSLD or a [senior home] and, unfortunately, they often have to go back to the closet," said Gamache.

He wants the government to establish programs targeted at LGBTQ+ seniors that will reduce isolation and improve living environments.

"In living environments, there is often a denial of sexual orientation and gender identity," Gamache noted. "We need to ensure that staff are well trained, understand the issues and are able to welcome these people to create inclusive environments."

The demands of LGBTQ+ communities will culminate in the Pride Parade Sunday on René-Lévesque Blvd.

This report was first published in French by The Canadian Press on July 31, 2022.