Equality Forum celebrates Canadian equality

Equality Forum will celebrate the USA’s northern neighbor during its annual global LGBT summit next week.

Equality Forum will take place from May 1-4, with Canada as the featured nation. The four-day event will feature its signature events such as the International Equality Dinner at the National Museum of American Jewish History, SundayOUT! at the Piazza at Schmidt’s and a myriad of panels.

Equality Forum executive director Malcolm Lazin said with Canada celebrating its 10th anniversary of marriage equality, it only seemed appropriate to feature the nation.

“It gives us an opportunity to celebrate but also to learn from their experiences and hopefully learn some of their best practices in many ways,” he said. “While same-sex marriage first happened here in Massachusetts, it wasn’t until recently that a lot of states have legalized same-sex marriage, whereas Canada has for 10 years across their country.”

Equality Forum panels will include representatives from all facets of Canadian culture, who will speak about politics, legal issues and religion.

The National Politics Panel will take place from 5:30-6:45 p.m. May 2 at the University of the Arts, Connelly Auditorium, 211 S. Broad St. The panel will include editor of the Washington Blade Kevin Naff, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans Gregory Angelo, Victory Fund and Institute managing director Torey Carter, National Center for Lesbian Rights policy director Maya Rupert, and Lazin.

There will be three panels the following day: the National Legal Panel from 1-2:15 p.m. in Connelly Auditorium; International Workplace Panel from 1-2:15 p.m. in the UArts Terra Hall Board Room; National Religious Colloquy from 2:30-3:45 p.m. in Connelly Auditorium; and a panel on Canada from 2:30-3:45 p.m. in Terra Hall Board Room. All panels are free of charge.

Lazin said the 15th annual LGBT art exhibit, “You Are You,” will focus on explorations of gender identity.

“This year’s exhibit will be very interesting,” he said. “The photographer, Lindsay Morris, is very well known. There is a camp for pre-adolescents who are non-binary in their sexuality and gender. Her photos from the camp show how gender can play out in all ages.”

The exhibit will be featured throughout the duration of Equality Forum at the Gershman Hall, Avenue Gallery, 401 S. Broad St. It is free of charge.

The International Equality Dinner will take place from 6:30-9:30 p.m. May 3 at the National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall East. Equality Forum will honor Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane with the Distinguished Equality Award, which will be presented by state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.

TD Bank will be given the International Business Leadership Award and the National Hockey League and the Burke family will be given the International Role Model Award.

“The NHL has been the most active in terms of being out in sports and we are also co-presenting it with the Burke family, one of the major families in the hockey world and they are the earliest in hockey to be advocates for the LGBT community,” Lazin said.

Lazin said SundayOUT! is always a crowd pleaser.

“We’ve got a great line-up and SundayOUT! is obviously a very great event every year and a lot of fun,” he said.

SundayOUT! will close Equality Forum from noon-6 p.m. May 4 at The Piazza, North Second Street and Germantown Avenue. The event is $10, or $5 for students.

The event, sponsored by Wired 96.5, will feature Philadelphia-based DJ KAsh, DJ Cassidy, Fuego Dance Company and Jamai Mosley.

For more information on Equality Forum, visit www.equalityforum.com.