OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with British Columbia
Parent’s Voice, the municipal political party whose sole purpose revolved around revoking the Burnaby District School Board’s anti-homophobia and anti-bullying policy, has been soundly defeated.
Parent’s Voice was a staunch opponent to the existing school board’s policies acknowledging GLBT students—policies that demonstrably help reduce harassment and bullying that has historically led to suicide. Thankfully, voters instead re-elected the entire city council and school board who had introduced and stood by these important policies. The highest placing of all the Parent’s Voice candidates, by contrast, came in tenth place.
This thorough rejection rather aptly demonstrates just how much of a minority these vocal opponents to equal rights and protections for GLBT people really are. Still, it’s important not to dismiss their actions as inconsequential, so I wish to congratulate all the students and supporters that helped get people out to the polls and counter the sort of nonsense that Parent’s Voice stood for.
Here’s to Burnaby’s much safer schools!
- Voters reject Parents’ Voice [Xtra Vancouver]
Tourism BC has apologized after distributing a marketing brochure telling business owners in the province that they are not allowed to promote gay tourism in China.
The brochure, entitled How to Market Your Business in China, states that advertising to gay tourists in China was forbidden by the Chinese National Tourism Administration. The wee problem with this statement: Absolutely no such ban exists.
The province’s NDP tourism critic, Spencer Chandra Herbert, was left completely baffled. “Why was this language in the B.C. government brochure?” he asked. ”Who put it in there and for what reason?”
The B.C. government responded by saying that the details of various marketing restrictions between Canada and China (you know, the ones that don’t include any sort of gay marketing ban) are federal government territory, and the province had no role in its endorsement.
The province has since pulled the brochures.
A teacher in Burnaby, British Columbia has received a death threat over the school board’s proposal to adopt anti-homophobia policies designed to reduce incidents of bullying and make schools safter for GLBT students.
The letter, adorned with illustrations of bloody knives, reads as follows:
Must immediately withdraw POLICY #5.45
Adhere to the basic social principles!
You have no right to do so!
You want to destroy our children!
You are our enemy!
You will be shot!
Similar anti-homophobia policies have been implemented across B.C. without issue—and certainly no death threats—but some bizarre opposition in Burnaby has drawn the policy into the national spotlight. A one-issue political party with five candidates, The Parent’s Voice, was formed expressly to oppose the policy.
While I don’t expect that Parent’s Voice is officially responsible for the death threat, the alarmist language employed by the party certainly contributes to an atmosphere in which these types of reactions are encouraged. In a press release announced shortly before the letter was delivered, the group called the anti-bullying policies part of a “hidden political agenda” consisting of “homosexual propaganda” and “left-wing social engineering led by gay activists” to undermine parents.
The RCMP is investigating the letter.
A new civic party has been started in Burnaby, British Columbia in direct opposition to some new anti-homophobic bullying initiatives introduced by the Burnaby School Board trustees last June.
Calling themselves Parents’ Voice, the party is in opposition to the board’s existing anti-bullying policy on gender identity and sexual orientation, which they call “homosexual propoganda.” Actually, opposition might be a bit of an understatement. The issue is the party’s entire platform, and if elected, the party is vowing to make revoking the policy their only priority.
The party is running five candidates: Homara Ahmad, Charter Lau, Helen Ward, Gordon World, and Long Xue.
Burnaby, incidentally, is the 14th school board in British Columbia to have adopted a sorely needed anti-homophobia and anti-bullying policy. While it’s important that these board policies remain in place, there is work underway to get the provincial government to adopt a consistent, province-wide policy. If that’s something you’d like to support, today is the last day to participate in the Purple Letter Campaign, so I encourage you to check it out!
- School gay policy sparks parents’ civic party [Burnaby Now]
Kari Simpson, an anti-gay activist and conservative radio host, has filed a police complaint against an anti-homophobia program designed to reduce the bullying of LGBT students and foster a safer atmosphere in schools.
Slap readers may remember Kari from the time she unsuccessfully launched a class-action human rights complaint against the B.C. Education Ministry for not introducing the “thousands” of schoolchildren who “suffer from homosexuality and other dysfunctional sexual orientations” to sexual re-orientation therapies. (Oddly enough, not one of these thousands of schoolchildren seemed interested in supporting Kari’s case—or in the universally rejected therapies—which was promptly thrown out by the BC Human Rights Tribunal.)
Anyway, Kari went away for a while. And that was nice. But she’s back now, spearheading an attempt to get the police to investigate Out in Schools, an anti-bullying initiative designed to “facilitate discussion with youth on bullying, homophobia, and stereotypes, [giving] youth a safe space to explore these issues.”
According to Kari, though, the anti-bullying motives behind Out in Schools is really just a clever front. The real reason for the anti-homophobia program, she says, is to “dupe parents and introduce children into homosexist politics and pornography,” effectively recruiting children “into a sexualized culture of porn and games of debauchery.”
Oh, Kari. Where would this website be without you?
So let me respond to this allegation with the only appropriate question: Is Kari actually delusional, or does she merely have an intense psychological need to get in the media despite lacking the intelligence and talent necessary to accomplish this without doing something so astonishingly dumb that people can’t help but become fascinated by the mounds of wiggling, manifested stupidity?
The police, by the way, have yet to comment on Kari’s complaint.
(Special thanks to Slap reader Christina for alerting me to this mind numbing stupidity!)
Housing discrimination has always been a little difficult to measure. Yet, even in a city as diverse and vibrant as Vancouver, it’s reported to happen. While it’s illegal to deny a gay couple housing simply because of their sexual orientation anywhere in Canada, proving this kind of discrimination is not easy; landlords don’t normally admit to such prejudice. (At least, not the cowardly ones.)
This is what makes a recent experiment conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia so interesting.
Two professors and 34 students designed an experiment around some housing application letters. The letters were all identical except for a small detail. Some letters indicated a heterosexual couple was interested in the property, while others indicated a gay male couple, a single parent, or a lesbian couple. The letters were then sent to 1,700 different landlords in the Vancouver area.
The results are unfortunate.
Letters that were from the gay male partners were 25% more likely to be rejected than letters from the straight couples—more than any other group. The next-most discriminated group, single parents, were 15% more likely to be rejected.
The results, naturally, depended on the neighbourhood in which the property was located. Vancouver’s West End, for example, which has traditionally been an area favoured by gays, had a much higher acceptance rate of all family types than elsewhere in the city.
Now, considering that Vancouver is a pretty a diverse city, it probably exhibits less discrimination than elsewhere in Canada. In this sense, 25% is a pretty worrying statistic, wouldn’t you say?
The results of the study have been published in the August edition of the academic journal Social Problems.
John Cummins, the only candidate for the leadership position of the provincial Conservative party in British Columbia, has declared that being gay is a choice and that the Human Rights Code in the province should therefore exclude gay and lesbian citizens.
“In my view it was not necessary to add another category,” Cummins told the press last week. ”I’m not a scientist, [but] some of the research tells me that there’s more of an indication that that’s a choice issue.”
Well, no credible research says that, actually. And while my M.Sc. would happily indicate that I am a scientist, I won’t presume—as does Mr. Cummins—that I have any authority to speak about this subject on an academic level since this isn’t my particular field of science.
That said, I have plenty of experience in research methodology and can recognize credible peer-reviewed studies when I see them. In the medical and psychological community, there is no controversy. The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association (and so forth ad nauseam), have all concluded that sexual orientation is not a choice, and that it’s not changeable.
(Or, you know, Mr. Cummings could have just asked a gay person, like me, if they chose their sexual orientation. I didn’t, in case he’s wondering.)
Still, I’m curious about something…
In addition to prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, the B.C. Human Rights Code also prohibits discrimination based on religious affiliation. Since religious affiliation is clearly a choice, and since I’m sure Mr. Cummins uses consistent and sound logic in making important leadership decisions, why does he feel that religious protections should be stripped from all BC citizens?
I’m still awaiting his response, but will surely let you know when he gets back to me. (Chortle.)
Shaun Woodward, a 37 year old construction worker, was in a Vancouver gay pub last March when he was offered a beer by Richard Dowrey, a 62 year old gay man out celebrating his retirement. Woodward, who is straight, was angered by the gesture, sucker punching the retiree amidst a stream of homophobic slurs. Dowrey suffered permanent brain damage, leaving him with severe memory problems. He will require assisted living for the rest of his life.
Robin Perelle from Xtra Vancouver interviewed Dowrey for an article published late last week. The story is heartbreaking. In Perelle’s words:
I visited Dowrey at his care home in Langley the day before his attacker’s sentencing hearing. Dowrey can’t remember the attack. He can’t remember his friends at The Fountainhead [Pub]. He can’t remember his life.
I ask him how old he is; “60-something,” he tells me, unable to be more precise. “I don’t remember a thing from the 40s and 50s,” he adds. I ask him why. “I don’t know,” he replies, watching me.
“I hope I’ll get better one of these days,” he says, pointing at himself. “I hope so.” “I just have to get this leg fixed,” he says.
Woodward claimed the attack was self defense because the 62 year old had made “unwanted sexual advances.” Provincial Court Judge Jocelyn Palmer dismissed Woodward’s gay panic defense outright, calling the gay-bashing an “unprovoked attack, driven by virulent homophobia,” delivering a six-year prison sentence.
Judge Palmer’s choice of words, “virulent,” is fitting. Homophobic sentiment spreads and strengthens itself, and silence does nothing to stop it. Homophobia must be challenged wherever it is encountered, well before it escalates to this level of violence and destroys lives.
- Man ‘driven by virulent homophobia’ sentenced to 6 years for attack on gay man [Vancouver Sun]
- Unrecognizable [Xtra Vancouver]
Tory Inglis, a 17-year old gay teen from B.C., has withdrawn from her position as a church youth leader after being punished for volunteering as a Pride organizer.
The young lesbian appeared in a photo for a local newspaper reporting on a gay pride event in June, only to be summoned to a meeting with officials for the First Presbyterian Church a month later. There, the officials called the teen a poor role model, scolding her until she cried, and requested that she stop her volunteer work with the Pride group immediately.
Churches have a special status in Canada which entitles them to violate our Charter of Rights and Freedoms with respect to services and employment, so the Presbyterian Church is allowed to do behave this way, as immoral as it seems. That said, it’s still an odd stance for this particular church. According to their own handbook on Social Action, the church says that it “does not limit the roles of its members on the basis of their sexual orientation.”
Tory, meanwhile, was left with a conflicting message. “They want me to leave the Pride organization,” she said, “even though it stands for all of the things they preach in church—which is acceptance of all people.”
No worries, Tory. Anyone who volunteers so much of their time to such worthwhile causes is a super role model. Keep standing up for what’s right, and you’ll do just fine!
- New West teen called to task by church after coming out as lesbian [Montreal Gazette]
- Gay B.C. teen heartbroken after church tells her to ditch Pride work [Montreal Gazette]
Shawn Woodward, a 37 year old man from Vancouver, was found guilty of aggravated assault this week after sucker-punching a 62-year-old gay man. Richard Dowrey, the victim, was left with permanent brain damage and will now require assistance for the rest of his life.
Woodward, who is straight, claimed that the punch was made in self-defense because Dowrey had made “unwanted sexual advances.” Now, that’s a pretty crazy argument on its own, but it’s extra absurd in this case. The assault happened inside the Fountainhead Pub, a gay bar in the middle of Vancouver’s gay district.
After examining witness testimony, the judge found that Woodward’s evidence was not credible, that no sexual assault took place, and that Woodward merely became offended and violent after being hit on by a gay guy.
Sentencing happens in September, where it will be decided if the assault was also a hate crime.
- Guilty verdict in Fountainhead Pub assault [CBC News]
Lee and Susan Molnar, a retired couple in British Columbia, have decided to shut down their bed and breakfast rather than allow gays to stay there. The couple had converted their riverside home into a quaint lodging destination, but had a human rights complaint filed against them after refusing to open their business to gay customers.
The human rights tribunal case, which started on Wednesday, heard arguments from the couple that allowing gay people to stay in the their home would have violated their religious freedoms. While I’m pretty sure that the idea of turning away others is not Christian tenet, the bigger issue here is that this was not a private home—it ceased to be so the moment it was turned into a bed and breakfast. It was a business where customers pay to lodge for a few nights and that the owners happened to live in as well. The law is very clear about these things: You cannot refuse public services to anyone based on their sexual orientation.
The couple has done the right thing by closing their business. If their personal discriminatory tendencies prevent them from serving the public equally, then they’re simply not fit to run one. Too bad for them, too; meeting people from all walks of life would have been an enriching experience.
I’m sure some people will paint this as some sort of erosion of religious freedoms, but they’re probably forgetting this is a two-way street. Gay bed and breakfast owners can’t turn away Christian customers either.
- B.C. couple shut down B&B after discrimination complaint against them [Montreal Gazette]
- Rights hearing pits gay couple vs. B and B [CBC News]
Let’s end the week on some sweet notes, why not?
British Columbia’s legislature will have a new name to remember after an NDP MLA married his longtime partner last month. Spencer Herbert will now be known as Spencer Chandra Herbert, making him Canada’s first MLA to take his gay partner’s last name. The Vancouver-West MLA has already updated his website with the change, and hopes that other legislative sources will soon follow. The change won’t take too much effort, mind you; during house proceedings, MLAs are always referred to by their constituency.
On the other side of the ocean, Slap reader Melanie has written in with some good news about a British soldier in Prince Harry’s regiment. Lance Corporal James Wharton from the Blues and Royals has married his boyfriend, Thom McCaffrey. James wore military regalia to help formalize the wedding, which was held at the regiment’s Knightsbridge barracks. It was the first same-sex wedding for any member of the Household Cavalry.
Of course, after these two weddings, I’ll keep an eye out for news on whether or not society will continue. Until then, have a great weekend!
- Gay MLA weds and takes husband’s name [Xtra West]
- Gay Wrexham soldier’s wedding makes military history [The Leader]
- Prince’s Man in Gay ‘I Do’ [The Sun]
Les and Susan Molnar, owners of a small bed and breakfast in British Columbia, have refused lodging to a young couple for no reason other than that they are gay.
The Molnars, both of whom identify as evangelical Christians, claim that their personal religious beliefs forbid them from extending any hospitality to gays. Shaun Eadie and Brian Thomas, who say that they have been unjustly denied service from a public business, have filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.
Turning away those different from you… Well, that’s an interesting interpretation of what Jesus was all about. I’ll watch for how this one turns out!
Edmund Bro and Keith Scott, two gay, physically disabled, HIV-positive tenants in West Vancouver, have won their case with the Human Rights Tribunal over an abusive and homophobic landlord. Each tenant was awarded $15,000 to compensate for their year-and-a-half of relentless harassment from Michael John Moody and his son, Guy.
The Human Rights Code in British Columbia forbids, among other things, discrimination based on disability, sexual orientation, and source of income. Moody, being the sampling type it appears, decided to violate as many of these as possible. In addition to constant verbal harassment, he physically assaulted the two disabled men, demeaned their reliance on disability benefits, and even refused to conduct repairs on the property.
Bro and Scott moved out, of course, leaving Moody free to rebuild his property as a summer spot for anti-gay lobbyists.
- Gay tenants win B.C. Human Rights Tribunal complaint [Straight.com]
A Lesbian couple in Vancouver is complaining to the media after a bus driver told them the city’s Sunday family special didn’t apply to lesbian couples.
Vancouver public transit allows up to two adults and four children to board a bus using a single FareCard, but when Ashlee Gowriluk and her girlfriend tried this, they say they were told this only applied to opposite-sex couples. Even when Gowriluk called the transit authority with her cell phone confirming that the Sunday special applies to any two adults, the bus driver refused to acknowledge the policy, instead driving off announcing that he would never stop for them again.
A spokesperson for Coast Mountain Bus Company, the operator of public transit in Vancouver, said the company is investigating the incident. Not being happy with a mere investigation, Slap Upside The Head is starting a petition demanding that all drivers be replaced with adorable, bus-driving robots.
Marc Dalton, a candidate in the upcoming B.C. election, has drawn criticism over the surfacing of a homophobic email that he authored back in 1997. The email, which was sent while Dalton was an elementary school teacher, tiresomely equates gay people to adulterers and gamblers:
There are [...] behaviours and acts that most of us would not condone: rape, robbery, assault, drunken driving, pedophilia, incest, and so on. There are other moral issues that large segments of our society do not see eye to eye: gambling, adultery, pornography. I believe that homosexuality fits in this category.
As is increasingly customary amidst elections, the email was revealed by a rival party, accompanied with a demand that Dalton resign for its content. NDP rival Spencer Herbert called the email’s message “disturbing,” adding “to say people like myself and other gay people are the same as pedophiles is an offensive remark.”
In fairness to Dalton, I don’t believe the email equates gay people to pedophiles, and frankly, the whole tone of the email seems like just another woefully misinformed repetition of religious morality talking-points. Still, Dalton, who is also a former pastor, has only provided a meaningless—even snarky—apology, saying “if Spencer Herbert or any other individuals have taken offence in their reading of this 12-year-old e-mail, I extend my unequivocal apology.”
The email is old, but much like the Tom Lukiwski fiasco, I think the age of the offending comments is irrelevant. I also think that all this talk of the email content and when it was made is a distraction from the larger issue.
Dalton’s email wasn’t sent out of the blue; it was sent to a fellow teacher in response to an anti-bullying initiative brought up by the B.C. Teacher’s Federation. The initiative was to protect children who were being bullied and harassed for having gay parents, or for being gay themselves. Not only did Dalton disagree with protecting students from this anti-gay harassment, but he actively started a counter-petition, circulating it among teachers, trying to get the anti-bullying initiative struck down. In Dalton’s words:
There are many, many people who hold homosexuality to be an improper and high-risk behaviour. [...] I am against the BCTF ram-rodding the homosexual motion against the wishes of great numbers of parents (and teachers) in this district and in this province.
This, the act of actively thwarting an initiative to protect children from bullying under the disingenuous guise of somehow protecting parental freedom to oppose homosexuality, is the true vulgarity here. This important character revelation has relevance to the current election, and its in this respect that I agree with Spencer Herbert. MLAs are required to represent everyone in their community, and Dalton, having shown that he is not up to the task, should quietly remove himself from candidacy.
Claire L’Heureux-Dube, a former Supreme Court judge, has predicted that the courts will toss out any arguments linking same-sex marriage to a polygamist sect in Canada.
Two men currently facing charges related to a religious cult in Bountiful, British Columbia have already indicated that they will invoke gay marriage as an argument defending their dozens of wives.
“It is contrary to the equality of the sexes,” L’Heureux-Dube said to the press, noting that in the United States these men would be charged with sexual exploitation rather than simply having multiple spouses. Indeed, the polygamy charges in Bountiful appear to be a blanket charge for greater accusations of incest and exploitation.
So where do the gays come in all of this? Beats me! I’ve only heard the argument from those wacky anti-gay lobbyists, not the actual connection.
- Former top court judge doesn’t buy polygamy argument [Canada.com]
Kari Simpson, an anti-gay activist, has filed a complaint against the B.C. Education Ministry for not doing enough to help students who “suffer from homosexuality and other dysfunctional sexual orientations.”
The bizarre complaint goes on to allege that schools simply aren’t turning enough gay students straight. As Simpson puts it:
Sexual re-orientation therapies have helped thousands of individuals recover from such dysfunctional orientations. School counsellors are being denied the tools to be effective advocates for students in need of sexual re-orientation help and they should have access to resources and training that will equip them to properly counsel students.
Gee, that’s just awful. Think of all those thousands of poor, suffering gays that were denied their right to re-orientation by that callous school board.
Odd, though, don’t you think, that this human rights complaint had to be filed by a Christian activist instead of just one of those thousands of suffering students who were denied a gay cure. (Though, frankly, the only suffering I’ve ever endured as a gay person is from people like Kari.)
See, what Kari already knows—but chooses to ignore—is that all peer-reviewed research into reparative conversion therapy for gays has not only shown that it’s completely ineffective, but that it’s demonstrably harmful to one’s well-being. That’s why every respected medical and professional organisation has gone on record to condemn the very idea, including The American Psychological Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Association, The American Counselling Association, The American Psychiatric Association, etc., etc., ad nauseam.
If I had to take a gander at it—which I don’t, but it’ll be fun—I’d say that Kari is filing the human rights complaint for two reasons. First, the Human Rights Commission has a history of protecting the rights of gays, and a small subset of religious activists feel it’s at their expense. By launching a destined-to-fail complaint she is setting herself up for some kind of hilarious martyrdom for a tiny, but delightfully obsessed group of nuts, which she can then use to further criticize the commission. Second, she gets a venue in which she can repeat the myth that there’s really no such thing as gay people to begin with: just straight people who need help escaping their sin.
Disingenuous compassion has been a failing strategy for these activists for years. This time won’t be any different. It’s just too bad that she has to waste valuable time from the people who have real human rights violations to report.
Here’s a cute story to lighten those mid-week blues. The B.C. legislature has welcomed some of Metro Vancouver’s gayest royalty for the first time on Monday in acknowledgement of the community’s efforts—minus one small detail.
The Emperor and Empress of Surrey, accompanied by Mr. and Ms. Gay Vancouver attended Monday’s legislative session at the invitation of NDP MLA Spencer Herbert, who called the royal visit one of many “small steps toward a fuller appreciation of our province’s great diversity.” However, due to dress protocol, all tiaras and sashes had to be left at the hotel.
“The symbol of the crown is usually reserved for one individual,” the Empress said to the press, referring to, I assume, Stephen Harper. “Yes, I would have loved to have had all my regalia,” added Ms. Gay Vancouver, “but I’m still here as Ms. Gay Vancouver!”
Good on all of them! Until Friday, kiddos!
- Drag queens lose crowns in protocol tussle [Globe and Mail]