Svend Robinson

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Svend Robinson (born March 4, 1952) is a former Canadian politician. He was a Member of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons from 1979 to 2004, representing the suburban Vancouver-area constituency of Burnaby for the New Democratic Party. When he chose not to run again in the June, 2004 election, he was one of the longest-serving members in the House of Commons, having been elected and re-elected for seven consecutive terms.


Early life

Robinson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States, of Danish descent to Edith Jensen and Wayne Robinson. His father opposed the Vietnam War and brought his family to live in Canada. Robinson obtained a law degree from the University of British Columbia and completed post-graduate work in international law at the London School of Economics. He was awarded the highest overall honour at the University of British Columbia in 1972, the Sherwood Lett Memorial Scholarship. He was also active in university politics, serving on the Senate and the first student to be elected to the university Board of Governors. Robinson was called to the BC Bar as a barrister and solicitor in 1978 and practised law with Robert Gardner and Associates until his election to the House of Commons in May 1979.


Robinson was the New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament (MP) for ridings in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, British Columbia, the third-largest city in British Columbia.

As the longest-serving British Columbia MP of his time, in office from 1979 to 2004, Svend Robinson is notable for having been the first Canadian MP to come out as gay, in the spring of 1988. He has since been followed by other gay and lesbian politicians in Parliament: Bloc Québécois MPs Réal Ménard and Raymond Gravel, fellow New Democrats Libby Davies and Bill Siksay, and Liberal Party of Canada MPs Scott Brison and Mario Silva, as well as Senators Laurier LaPierre and Nancy Ruth. Robinson has received many awards and honours for his work in Canada and internationally for LGBT rights and in 2009 was the Co-Chair of the Copenhagen OUTGames International LGBT Human Rights Conference. He successfully sponsored legislation in Parliament in 2004 to include "sexual orientation" in hate crimes legislation. He was also active on HIV/AIDS issues from the start of the epidemic in the early 1980s.

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