The HRC Is Busy Enough
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.
- Gay couple files rights complaint [Chronicle Herald]