Gay Canadian and Inuit man Robbie Watt has launched a Facebook in support of LGBTI indigenous Canadians in response to a number of Inuit local politicians saying it was against Inuit tradition to be gay.
The saga began when a rainbow flag was hoisted over Iqaluit City Hall in Nunavut territory on 11 February to highlight gay rights in Russia during the Sochi Winter Olympics.
That same night one of the city’s councilors, Simon Nattaq, complained about the flag, claiming that it was ‘not Inuit custom to be gay.’
The episode generated a lot of discussion about the place of LGBTI people in indigenous Canadian society, and last week Nunavut Tunngavik president Cathy Towtongie said she agreed with Nattaq’s comments.
The Nunavut Tunngavik is the is the legal representative of the Inuit people of Nunavut for the purposes of native treaty rights and treaty negotiation.
Watt told CBC News that had been the last straw for him and so he set up the Facebook page ‘Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer - LGBTQ Community in the Arctic,’ to highlight LGBTI issues for Inuit people.
Watt said he had considered Towtongie a friend but enough was enough.
‘She’s gone to far,’ Watt said.
‘Stop this ignorance. This is not right – it doesn’t make sense to condemn your fellow Inuit based on their sexuality.’
Watt hopes that the Facebook page will assist younger LGBTI Inuit people to avoid some of the hurdles he has had coming to terms with his sexuality during his 46 years of life.
The Facebook page has had a healthy start, with almost 700 people liking it in its first 4 days.