OK, kiddo! Here are all the fantastically amazing posts tagged with Human rights complaints

Farmer’s Market Removes Trans Employee

October 3rd, 2011

The Trails End Farmer’s Market in London, Ontario is the subject of a human rights complaint after the market owner forced a vendor to remove a trans employee from their stand.

Karen Clarke, owner of the True 2 You candle company, said she was shocked to have received a call from Trails End demanding that she either fire a trans employee, or take her business to another market. “He said [the trans employee] made everyone uncomfortable,” Karen told the media. “‘It’s just not a family place’—he kept repeating that over and over again.”

Ed Kikkert, owner of the market, defended his actions to the media: “I’m not discriminating at all,” he said. “I’m just asking which washroom would they use?” He continued, “How can you go into a men’s washroom dressed as a lady, how can you go into the ladies washroom when you’re a man; that’s the difficulty I have. It’s not discriminating at all.”

That’s a defense? Yeah, good luck with that one in front of the human rights commission.

A petition has been started to boycott the Trails End market, which already has over 4,000 signatures.

Social Justice Elective Case Will Go Ahead

May 9th, 2011

Super Helicopter Mom! Assuming the authority to hover over ALL students and regulate their elective studies.

The British Columbia Supreme Court has ruled that a pending human rights challenge regarding a cancelled, optional high school course can go ahead, despite concentrated lobbying efforts by a few parents and lobbyists.

Now, this is a strange and convoluted tale, so please grab a chair, unplug your computer, disconnect all its cables and power supply, and reposition everything next to a fireplace while I regale you with the exciting details.

It starts back in the year 2006.

Social Justice 12, an elective course that includes a unit on the rights and struggles of the GLBT community, was proposed as part of a human rights commission settlement. A ruling found  that the B.C. curriculum was unfairly suppressing information beneficial to gay students, and an optional course that offered this missing information was deemed to be a nice, quick fix.

This did not sit well with the anti-gay lobby. These lobbyists became infuriated by the thought of any information about gay struggles in schools. In a concentrated effort, they called on parents to complain to the school boards. Their efforts worked, at least in one place. Officials in Abbotsford, a small city near Vancouver, panicked and cancelled Social Justice 12 just three weeks before it was scheduled to begin.

(May I re-emphasize at this point that this course was an option, available only to students who elected to take it?)

Now, Abbotsford may be small, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s small-minded. Students, having learned that their selected course was cancelled (and that they’d have to obtain credit elsewhere on very short notice to boot), complained to the schoolboard en masse. Realising the scope of their earlier decision, the board eventually decided to react to the students’ demands, but with a caveat.

Social Justice 12 would be re-introduced, but, unlike other options, each student would require parental permission to take it. Now, that’s all well and good if you’ve got a supportive family, but what about students with unsupportive parents? Particularly students whose parents had lobbied the board to turf the course in the first place, or gay students who haven’t outed themselves yet and feared a harsh reaction?

Essentially, a handful of lobbyists had still decided that no student should be able to decide for themselves whether or not to take this course. This didn’t sit well with Murray Coren, one of the community activists who helped launch the original human rights complaint in 2006. With support of students and parents, an expanded human rights complaint was launched, arguing that instating formal restrictions on the course availability undermines the settlement of the original human rights complaint.

(Hold on a second, I need to throw another log on the fire here. Poke it just a bit… Meh, good enough.)

So, a renewed human rights complaint is now pending with a good chance at success. This sent the anti-gay lobbyists into a rage. If all went as expected, students in their last year of high school would soon be able to take a course about Social Justice at their own discretion. In a pre-emptive strategy, the lobbyists appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that the human rights case should be dismissed on technicalities. The complainant isn’t a parent, they cried! (Although he was once a student). The complainant doesn’t even live in Abbotsford, they wailed! (Although school curriculum is provincial jurisdiction). But the Supreme Court would hear none of it. As of last week, it was decided that the complaint will go ahead.

It’s not over for the students of Abbotsford, and certainly not of any more relevance to the grade 12 students that have already graduated or are soon to graduate, but a brand new group of students are coming, and soon, this very silly tale will get a new chapter.

So, stay tuned for the exciting conclusion to Holy Crap, What’s The Big Deal?! Also available on audiobook.

European Court Says No To Same-Sex Marriage

June 28th, 2010

Illustration is blocked by a sign 'Due to a lack of EU consensus, your right to see this is revoked.'

A European human rights court has ruled that the legality of same-sex unions should be left up to individual European countries since there is no Europe-wide consensus on whether or not equal marriage recognition for everyone is a fundamental right.

The case was brought forward by an Austrian gay couple who are being denied the right to marry in their home country.

Six EU states have full equal marriage rights for all citizens, and ten more have state recognition of gay partnerships, without full marriage equality. The other eleven states don’t allow any kind of same-sex unions.

Justice is slow, but at least the majority of European countries have at least some kind of recognition of gay rights; keep fighting for your human rights and the rest will follow.

Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You That Power

June 25th, 2010

A man riding a giraffe shoots octopi at pedestrians, shouting 'Stand aside, for I have religious freedom!'

Will Goertzen, a landlord in Yellowknife, signed a one-year apartment lease for a young gay couple last year. Three weeks before the couple was set to move in, Goertzen discovered they were gay. He re-listed the property without notifying the couple, rented it to a different family, stole the couple’s $1,150 damage deposit, and left them for homeless.

Scott Robertson and Richard Anthony had to stay with various friends and keep all of their belongings scattered about different locations until they secured a new apartment. They got their damage deposit back only after taking Goertzen to rental court. Now the case is before the Northwest Territories Human Rights Commission.

Astonishingly, Goertzen is outright admitting that he denied housing, stole the damage deposit, and left the couple homeless because they were gay, saying that he recognizes the “supremacy of God over the Charter or Rights and Freedoms.”  “[Homosexuality] isn’t natural and it’s a crime against nature,” Goertzen told an adjudicator at a human rights commission last week, “I can definitely not have a part in it.”

Religious freedoms exist in Canada, but all that means is that the government cannot dictate which deity or deities you are allowed to worship; it does not—and has never—granted the power to circumvent Canada’s laws or our Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Both of which, indeed, explicitly forbid housing discrimination based on sexual orientation).

I’m not surprised some people are under a different impression, mind you. Saskatchewan has proposed a law that lets civil marriage commissioners refuse their public services for gay couples, and Alberta has just enacted a law that forces teachers to halt any discussions of sexual orientation until they receive parental permission from each parent, lest it offend their personal religious beliefs. Religious freedom is fast becoming a convenient carte blanche; a way to eschew personal responsibility, ignore or erase the rights of gay people, and nullify Canada’s guarantees of equality. Goertzen’s despicable behaviour is just a natural extension of this.

It’s time for mainstream religious people who realize that what Goertzen has done is wrong both in the legal and moral sense to stand up and say this is not acceptable.

Or, if this whole thing turns out differently, I could just start a religion of my own…

(Huge hat tip goes to Jason over at The Gay White North for the story.)

B&B Shuts Down Rather Than Welcome Gay Customers

June 11th, 2010

Elderly couple ponders what the bible says and recalls something about turning guests away from an inn.

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.

Bed & Breakfast Turns Away Gay Visitors

March 12th, 2010

A newly discovered biblical scroll.

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!

Teacher Fired Over Gender Identity

October 5th, 2009

So very tragic.

The St. Albert Catholic School Board has fired a transgendered substitute teacher for being, well, transgenered.

The teacher’s union representing Mr. Jan Buterman has filed a human rights complaint over the firing, with incontrovertible evidence of workplace discrimination. “Since you made a personal choice to change your gender,” a letter received from the school board to Mr. Buterman reads, “we have to remove you from the substitute teacher list.” The letter adds that “the teaching of the Catholic Church is that persons cannot change their gender.”

Gee, they sure go through a lot of trouble to make sure students never have contact with any GLBT role models. I mean, can you imagine what would happen to the students if that were to happen? Surely one shudders at the very thought!

Say… You know, the name of the school board sounds awfully familiar to me… Oh, that’s right! It’s the one in which I spent my entire grade school education. Funny, I still turned out gay.

Now, normally religious institutions are exempt from following human rights laws, but the St. Albert Catholic School Board is publicly funded which throws a bit of a kink into that argument. I don’t know how this human rights complaint will turn out, mind you. Alberta technically does not recognize transgendered individuals in its human rights legislation (and consequently tramples over them whenever possible), but I would hope that either the board follows the same, respectful antidiscrimination laws that other publicly funded institutions are required to follow, or find private sources of funding.

(Hat tip to Mercedes Allen for the story. Read more over at Dented Blue Mercedes.)

Gay Altar Server Apalled After Being Fired

July 17th, 2009

Not that I'm calling the Church zombies or anything...

Here’s a neat lesson to start off your Friday: If you want to join a notoriously unwelcoming community, maybe try not to be surprised when you feel unwelcomed.

Jim Corcoran, a gay Catholic in Ontario, was shocked—shocked—to learn that he was removed from his church’s altar service after some of his fellow parishioners complained to the Diocese that a gay man was serving. Jim is now filing a human rights complaint against Bishop Nicola De Angelis for discrimination based on sexual orientation.

While Jim has every right to feel offended, his case will fail—if the Human Rights Tribunal even agrees to hear it at all. Churches, as private religious institutions, are exempt from having to conform to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That means, legally, they can discriminate against whomever they please, so long as it’s within their own private institutions and not within the public sphere.

So, while firing Jim just for being gay wasn’t a moral thing to do, churches are allowed to act that way—and happily seize the opportunity.

It’s what Jesus would do, after all, I guess.

And a courtly tip o’ the hat to the always amazing Matt Guerin at Queer Liberal for the story.

Anti-Gay Human Rights Complaint Is A Dud

March 20th, 2009

Aaabooga booga booga booga booga!

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.

Lesbians File Rights Complaint Against Doctor

February 4th, 2009

What does that head reflector thingy do, anyway? And why don't doctors wear them anymore?

A human rights complaint has been filed against a Winnipeg family doctor who allegedly refused a lesbian couple as patients.

While it’s not clear if the doctor actually outright refused to treat Andrea and Ginette Markowski, her chilly attitude and ignorant comments were clear as day. In an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press, Dr. Kamelika Elias said that she didn’t know how to treat lesbians, that it was against her religion, and that gay people “get a lot of diseases and infections” with which she has no experience treating.

I’m not entirely sure which religion Dr. Elias claims to profess, but it should be easy enough to discover. I’ll just try Googling the relevant commandment: “Thou shalt helpeth others in their hour of need—except whenceforth a forbidden gayness eminates.”

The HRC Is Busy Enough

January 14th, 2009

Terminology's a bitch sometimes

A human rights complaint has been filed against the Capital district health authority for insensitive comments made toward a gay patient and his husband.

The complainant says that a cardiovascular unit nurse repeatedly referred to his husband as a “friend,” despite multiple corrections, and another in the neurological unit said that the patient shouldn’t mind joining a room with three female patients because he’s a gay male.

While I’ll agree the comments are insensitive, from what I understand about the complaint, the Human Rights Commission likely won’t hear this case—and rightfully so.

Insensitive comments are always unfortunate, especially when combined with an exasperating hospital stay, but if a human rights settlement were awarded for every gay partner called a “friend” or “roommate” instead of “boyfriend” or “husband,” each city’s gay village would be situated atop a scenic hill with swans.

The Human Rights Commission has an important role in assuring equal employment, housing, and services for gay people, and the criminal code protects against genuine hate speech, but this situation falls under neither umbrella. Since the HRC has traditionally been an important ally in protecting the rights of gay people across Canada, anti-gay groups have been pushing to limit its powers. Frivolous filings, even if they aren’t ultimately heard by the HRC, can only lend support to that movement.

So, in this situation, me and my “roommate” suggest a phone call with the health authority and an open letter in the paper. It can do more than you’d think.

Lesbian Couple Denied Basement Suite

November 7th, 2008

A lesbian couple in British Columbia have filed a human rights complaint after being denied a basement suite.

College students Kathleen Webb and Liana LeBlanc say that Brenda and Marc Rovner, owners of a basement suite for rental, had assured them they were the first choice of tenants and that the suite was theirs until it was revealed they were lesbians. If that’s true, it will be a violation of the Human Rights Code, and possibly even Canadian law.

In a request to have the case dismissed, the Rovners provided a sworn affidavit claiming that their suite was only big enough for one tenant, contradicting the existence of their previous pair of tenants. But, who knows? It might be shown that the last couple was really just one person who could astroproject and felt like pretending to be a pair in a grand scheme to pay more rent.

Either way, I’ll report on the actual findings when they are released, likely in 2019.

Comedian Holds Fundraiser After Anti-Lesbian Tirade

July 11th, 2008

Michael Richards Guest Stars

Here’s a story that’s getting weirder: Guy Earle, the Toronto comedian who responded to some lesbian hecklers by going on a massive, anti-lesbian tirade and snapping one of their sunglasses in half is now facing a human rights complaint over the incident. He’s holding a benefit gala on the 19th to raise funds for a legal defense.

The evening of comedy includes several stand-up comedians, most notably Linda Ellis, a lesbian comic. (No, there’s no Michael Richards—but can you imagine?)

Now, I’ve previously slapped Mr. Earle for his bizarre and violent response to the hecklers, but I gotta say this human rights complaint won’t go very far. I’m not sure how much I can comment on the whole situation without having been there, but I’d have a really hard time dismissing the context of a late-night comedy club. Guy Earle was dumb and should feel ashamed for his personal attacks, but he’s a raunchy comedian and the complainants were hecklers. Surely they can see the irony in this.

Earle deserves serious denunciation, just not from the state. (Well, OK, maybe a teeny fine to replace the sunglasses. Finding a good pair is hard!)

Calgary Most Hateful City in Canada

June 11th, 2008


Calgary has topped the list of the most hate crimes committed per capita of any city Canada, according to a report released by Statistics Canada this week. The study also noted that gays are more likely to be the victims of violent hate crimes nationwide than any other minority group.

Neither statistic comes as any surprise. Alberta is home to several individuals who seem to have nothing better to do than publicly voice their distaste for gay people.

Off the top of my head: This week, Stephen Boisson is appealing a human rights ruling that made him apologise for a hateful letter that may have incited a violent anti-gay attack; Last year, Bishop Fred Henry called same-sex marriage a worse betrayal of children than the Catholic Church’s sex scandals, refused to give communion wafers to politicians that supported equal marriage rights, and separately said that gays are as evil as prostitutes and adulterers; Rob Anders, MP for Calgary West, crafted pamphlets linking same-sex marriage with violent gun crimes and crystal meth usage—and mailed them to another constituently entirely; Ted Morton introduced legislation that would have forced teachers to stop all discussions of same-sex marriage unless each student received written parental permission; Ralph Klien used the obscure Notwithstanding Clause to outlaw same-sex marriage in the province before the federal law took hold; Bill Whatcott based an entire mayoral campaign (seriously!) on countering homosexuality, while Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier announced in a mayoral debate that he doesn’t “condone” gay people; and Craig Chandler had his Tory nomination revoked because of anti-gay hate speech published on his website.

With such passionate and unnecessary rhetoric in the province, it’s no wonder that some people get the idea that it’s OK to react violently to gay people. Alberta’s biggest city now has three times the national average of actual hate crimes.

Religious Group To Appeal Discrimination Ruling

May 12th, 2008

Some sound rationalization...

Christian Horizons, a government-funded charity organisation, is appealing a ruling that found them in violation of human rights codes. Connie Heintz, a gay Christian, was forced to quit her job after co-workers discovered she was a lesbian. She filed a human rights complaint and won.

Since Christian Horizons is funded with public tax dollars, it is obligated to respect the rights of the public—including gay employees. With this in mind, I’m interested to hear on what grounds the appeal is based. Religious duty has never included ensuring that no employee is gay, even if you object to their orientation.

Gay Bar’s Human Rights Violation Settled, Kinda

April 30th, 2008

Insecure bar owner

A straight woman has settled her human rights complaint against Bar Le Stud, a Montréal gay bar.

Audrey Vachon sat down in the bar last spring to have a beer with her father, but was promptly informed that women were not welcome and was escorted from the establishment. (You know, because us gays would never complain if someone kicked us out of a straight bar just for being who we are, apparently.)

While it’s great that the two parties have settled, it sounds like the bar may not have learned its lesson. When the Globe and Mail contacted Le Stud following the settlement announcement, staff refused to clarify whether or not they’ll serve women now.

As a gay Montrealer, I can’t imagine what the bar management is thinking. The notion that a woman enjoying a beer with her father in the afternoon would somehow make other patrons uncomfortable is not only downright nutty, but continuing to eject patrons based on their sex is a hypocritical violation of our Charter rights. As part of Montréal’s vibrant gay community, surely Le Stud’s management has once felt the sting of exclusion themselves.

I said it before, but it can use repeating: Gay-friendly doesn’t mean gays only.

Evangelical Group Fined For Human Rights Violation

April 28th, 2008

The Golden Rule

Connie Heintz, a Christian worker at a shelter for developmentally delayed adults, has won a human rights case against her former employer.

After Connie’s co-workers at Christian Horizons discovered she was a lesbian, she was forced to quit, describing the work atmosphere as the “worst time of my life.” She was harassed, threatened with dismissal, and falsely accused of abusing the residents she was caring for. Connie, who is deeply religious, was awarded 18 months of her old salary as compensation.

Anti-gay groups are already up in arms; A LifeSite article was quick to accuse the human rights tribunal of stifling religious freedom—once again, under the assumption that gay people and religion are somehow mutually exclusive. I contest that. Connie was a devout Christian who cared deeply about the underlying mission of the organisation. For her employers to claim that having a gay employee in their ranks is somehow against their faith is a stretch. (Unless, of course, Jesus decreed something I’m not yet familiar with: “Thou shalt fireth the gay ones like a grain is shed from its stalk, for they be not fit to care for thy developmentally delayede adultes.”)

Christian Horizons receives public funds from the government and is contractually required to follow Canada’s human rights laws.

And a gentlemanly hat tip to Matt Guerin at Queer Liberal for the story.

Christian Group Launches Human Rights Complaint Against Tories

February 11th, 2008

Pot and Kettle

Concerned Christians Canada, an Alberta-based Christian lobby group, has announced that they will launch a human rights complaint against the Alberta Tories.

The complaint stems from the rejection of a Tory candidate’s nomination back in November. Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach failed to endorse Craig Chandler’s candidacy due to a history of anti-gay human rights violations. Concerned Christians Canada is furious with Chandler’s rejection, accusing the Stelmach government of anti-Christian discrimination.

So, refusing to endorse a bigot amounts to… bigotry?

Lobby chairman Jim Blake called it just that, adding that Stelmach’s actions were “reflective of wartime Germany,” and that it’s all part of a growing initiative to repress Christians:

It’s definitely anti-Christian bigotry. We’re concerned about a growing trend of anti-Christian behaviour in politics and society at large.

If this was done over someone being Muslim or homosexual, there’d be a huge outcry, a riot.

Well, I have to agree with one point: If someone’s nomination were rejected simply because they were Muslim or gay, there would be an outcry.

However, Chandler was not rejected simply for being Christian; if that were true, most of the MLAs in Stelmach’s government wouldn’t be there today either. Chandler was rejected because he repeatedly infringed upon the human rights of gay people. Having been raised Catholic, I’d argue that such views are decidedly non-Christian.

Blake’s faulty justifications aside, this human rights case doesn’t have a hope of succeeding. Human rights statutes prohibit discrimination in services that are commonly available to the public. Having your candidacy rejected because you don’t represent the views of the political party to which you applied does not fall in that category.

Concerned Christians Canada knows that this case is destined to fail, though. Their HRC complaint is a publicity attempt that will gain additional attention once their case fails. At that point, they’ll accuse the commission of having a bias toward gay and Muslim groups and present their failure as a flawed case study in their campaign to have the HRC abolished.

‘Cause opposing human rights is exactly what Jesus would do, apparently.

Gays Evicted From Mall

August 21st, 2006

Mall Directory

Oh, oh! I was waiting for the day that someone would dare keep a gay man away from his mall!

You heard right; a Gay Pride Group is speaking with the Ontario Human Rights commission after the Downtown Chatham Centre Mall shut down their booth, which was to be part of a larger mall-approved AIDS support event.

Mall officials were quick to dismiss discrimination charges, claiming that ousting the gays was part of a larger mall policy to not allow political or religious groups (neither of which I’m certain describes Gay Pride—but, whatever).

Strangely, though, it has been noted that the mall regularly allows the Christian group Salvation Army to fundraise there—often accompanied by municipal politicians. Alan Durston, Mall manager, had an… uh, interesting explanation.

We’ll allow some groups to come in to fundraise, but they don’t preach their religious beliefs to anybody else, which is the difference between gay pride or the Mormons or whichever other group.

Yeah, those gays are so annoying—preaching their religious beliefs to those who don’t want to hear it. Not at all like the Salvation Army (who, according to their own website, “is an evangelical group dedicated to preaching among the unchurched people”), accompanied by right-wing politicians

Uh, oh—hold on. I injured my eye while rolling it just now… I should tend to that… Well, until Wednesday folks!