Photo Credits: (Screengrab from IN Magazine)

Toronto—The Royal Canadian Mint has unveiled this week a commemorative loonie (a Canadian one-dollar coin) to mark “a key milestone for lesbian, gay, transgender, queer and two-spirited people, with the government saying the coin symbolized progress while highlighting the work that still needs to be done to advance equality,” Montreal Gazette reports. The coin was designed by Joe Average—a renowned artist based in Vancouver—and it featured two overlapping human faces enclosed in a large circle. The words “equality” and “égalité” were written on the coin as well as the years “1969” and “2019.”

It has been almost 50 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality on June 27, 1969 in Canada. The bill was introduced in 1967 by then-Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada Pierre Trudeau.

Historians, critics, and LGBTQ advocates alike however, are concerned that the commemorative coin “sends the wrong message” in that it “mistakenly suggests equality has been achieved, largely as a result of the federal government’s actions.” They said that even after the passage of the law, the “LGTBTQ2 people faced continued criminalization” citing examples like the bathhouse raids in various cities such as in Toronto and “continued harassment by law enforcement.” 

In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, York University historian Tom Hooper said that LGBTQ discrimination is still very much persistent today. Hooper pointed out that “trans and queer people of colour still face issues with policing and people with HIV remain subject to criminalization.” On the other hand, he said that the Equality coin is “at least fueling a public conversation about LGBTQ2 history.” Read the entire story here.

The Equality coin is being issued both as a regular $1 coin with 3 million in circulation and as a limited-edition $10 collector’s coin in full color. The latter is made with pure silver and only 15,000 coins are available for $49.95 each.

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