New Brunswick Government Services Minister Sue Stultz is in hot water after her speech in the legislature acknowledging Holocaust Remembrance Day included only some of the people victimized by Hitler's reign of terror.
Her speech quoted author Judy Tierney...or rather, quoted part of what Tierney said.
Stultz left out queers.
Tierney's commemorative poem said
Never again should the world tolerate the cruelty and the inhuman acts that the Nazis perpetrated against the Jews, the Gypsies, the weak and disabled as well.
Never again should religion, race, ethnic background, disability or sexual orientation define who lives and who dies, who is equal or unequal.
But Stultz's speech (edited, she said, without her knowledge) omitted the words "or sexual orientation". Obviously Stultz was herself ignorant of the fact that an estimated 50,000 lesbians and gay men were arrested under the Nazis, thousands of whom were sent to concentration
Stultz apologized, saying she speaks for all New Brunswickers.
A lesbian phys ed teacher was fired after 19 years when the Catholic school board she worked for found out she was a lesbian.
The teacher worked in Columbus, Ohio. Her sexual orientation came to light after her mother's obituary mentioned her female partner. After a complaint from a parent who read the obituary, the diocese fired her, saying she had "violated the school's moral policy".
Could it happen in B.C.?
Shockingly, the answer is 'yes'. Though such treatment is discriminatory, the Catholic employer gets off the hook under a provision in the B.C. Human Rights Code which exempts non-profit groups who exist to serve people on the basis of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation etc (any ground protected under the Code) from complying with human rights laws.
That's how Rape Relief is able to exclude transsexual women. We are a non-profit, we are here to serve women, so we are free to discriminate if we want to, they argued. They won.
So too did the Catholic Church win in a 1983 decision in which they fired a school teacher (heterosexual) because she was living with a partner outside of marriage. The Supreme Court of Canada said that the provision of the Code gave them a licence to discriminate.
The provision of the Code was intended to prevent men from complaining that they can't get services from women's groups, or non native people from complaining that they can't get service from an aboriginal friendship centre, for example. But it is jaw-droppingly wrong that such organizations are entitled to discriminate among the population they exist to serve.
Under the law as it is written, a disability rights group could turn away someone with AIDS; a women's group could exclude women of colour...the list goes on.
Thanks to my dear friend Joanne Arnott for passing on this post:
New Zealand votes to legalize same-sex marriage and breaks into song by MIRANDA NELSON on APR 17, 2013
New Zealand's parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage today (April 17). Upon the passing of the third reading—which passed 77 to 44—the gallery broke into song, singing “Pokarekare Ana", a traditional love song. If the law is given royal assent by the country's governor-general (all but a sure thing), New Zealand will become the 13th country to legalize same-sex marriage. http://www.straight.com/blogra/372646/new-zealand-votes-legalize-same-sex-marriage-and-breaks-song
Watch this video (under 2 minutes) about Harper's secret deal with the Chinese to control our resources. You might have to 'control click'
For a moving understanding of the issues that trans youth face, check out this news report:
Gender Identity added to Federal Laws
Yesterday, the House of Commons passed a law adding ‘gender identity’ to the list of protected grounds under the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.
NDP MP Randall Garrison introduced the legislation as a private member’s bill. In his version, the words ‘gender identity and gender expression’ would have been added to both laws.
But in the process of getting the law passed, compromises were made. The law now extends only to ‘gender identity’, and that term (unlike other prohibited grounds) is defined. The definition says “gender identity” means, in respect of an individual, the individual’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex that the individual was assigned at birth.
The result of the amendments is two fold. Though trans people have been consistently successful complaining about discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act on the grounds of ‘sex’, the addition of this new ground makes it visible to everyone that trans people are protected. That is an important public education function.
The second protection for trans people is in the ‘hate crimes’ section of the Criminal Code. That section provides for increased sentencing where it can be shown that a crime was motivated by bias, prejudice or hatred against an identifiable group. ‘Gender identity’, defined in the same way as in the Canadian Human Rights Act, has been added to the list.
The change to the Criminal Code is important, but applying it is sometimes a problem, since assailants do not necessarily shout “I am beating you up because of your gender identity!” Unless there is some evidence that that was the motive, courts have not used the sentencing provisions much.
The bill will not take effect until it is considered by the Senate (who can amend it) and given royal assent.
You can find the full bill at http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&DocId=6053237
For the health and safety of all of our mothers, all of our daughters, all of our sisters, all of our partners, and all of us women, including all of us who are transwomen, check out the Thirty One Things Campaign.
Thanks to Agnes Huang for passing on this story of a surrogate mom who learned she was carrying a child with congenital defects, and of the surrogate parents who no longer wanted the child.
In BC, under the Family Law Act, a child is the child of the woman who gave birth to her, even if there is a pre-conception surrogacy agreement, until the birthing mom signs an agreement to hand over the child after birth.
In British Columbia, some public schools do and some do not accommodate trans youth. Roman Catholic school system does not, though this is currently being challenged in a human rights proceeding.
This report from the Transgender Legal Defence and Education Fund:
Complaint Alleges Six-Year-Old Transgender Girl Denied Access to Girls' Bathrooms at School
TLDEF today announced that it has filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division on behalf of a 6-year-old girl who has been barred from using the girls' bathrooms at her elementary school. For the past year, Coy Mathis, a first-grader at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain, CO, has used the girls' bathrooms. In mid-December 2012, the Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 informed her parents that Coy would be prevented from using the girls' bathrooms after winter break. The District ordered Coy to use the boys' bathroom, a staff bathroom, or the nurse's bathroom.
Coy was labeled male at birth, but has always known that she is a girl, and has expressed this since she was 18 months old. Since kindergarten, Coy has worn girls' clothing to school. Her classmates and teachers have used female pronouns to refer to her and she has used the girls' bathrooms, just like any other girl in her school.
The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination against transgender students in public schools. Despite efforts to get the District to reconsider its decision, it has refused to do so. Coy's parents have removed her from school and are home schooling her until this Complaint is resolved.
"We want Coy to have the same educational opportunities as every other Colorado student," said Kathryn Mathis, Coy's mother. "Her school should not be singling her out for mistreatment just because she is transgender."
"By forcing Coy to use a different bathroom than all the other girls, Coy's school is targeting her for stigma, bullying and harassment," said Michael Silverman, TLDEF's executive director, and one of Coy's lawyers. "Through the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, Coloradans have made it clear that they want all Colorado children to have a fair and equal chance in school," he added. "Coy's school has the opportunity to turn this around and teach Coy's classmates a valuable lesson about friendship, respect and basic fairness."
"We have five children and we love them all very much," said Mrs. Mathis. "We want Coy to return to school to be with her teachers, her friends, and her siblings, but we are afraid to send her back until we know that the school is going to treat her fairly. She is still just six years old, and we do not want one of our daughter's earliest experiences to be our community telling her she's not good enough."
In addition to TLDEF, the legal team representing the Mathis family includes Michael Flynn, Lucy Deakins, Jami Mills Vibbert, and Rosario Doriott Dominguez of Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P.
For the latest information on Coy's case, including upcoming media appearances, please follow us on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook. We'll be posting the latest information there first.
Click for a slideshow of Mathis family photos.
Please donate today to help us fight for Coy's rights and the rights of children like her. Your support is critical to achieving a victory for Coy and transgender people everywhere.
The Supreme Court of Canada today issued an important decision about hate speech directed at queers.
The background to the case concerned four documents: two flyers, one called "Keep Homosexuality out of Saskatoon's Public Schools!" and "Sodomites in our Public Schools"; and two flyers which were the reprint of a classifed ad with handwritten comments added.
Under the Saskatchewan Human Rights code, it is illegal to circulate publications which "expose a person to hatred and ridicule" on a protected ground - here, sexual orientation.
So the big question for the court was: where does prohibited hate speech end, and where does freedom of speech begin?
The Supreme Court of Canada analyzed what a publication must be like in order to contravene the hate speech provisions. It said that there must be three main elements. First, the person judging whether the publication contains hate speech must do so from an 'objective' point of view, asking themselves whether a 'reasonable person, aware of the context and circumstances, would view the expression as exposing the protected group to hatred'. (In other words, you cannot only ask queers what they think about that question). Second, it is only hateful and contrary to the protections in Saskatchewan's human rights legislation if it is really hateful...in the sense captured by the words 'detestation' and 'vilification'. It's not hate speech just because it is repugnant or offensive. And finally, the decision maker must look to see what the effect of the hate speech is: is the probably effect that it will expose the targeted person or group to hatred by others?
The complainants had argued that the section of the human rights law under which they had been convicted was a breach of their constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech. True, said the Supreme Court of Canada: but, your right to freedom of speech has to be balanced against the right to be free from speech which is likely to cause hatred; and in this case, most of the human rights law is appropriate and impairs one's freedom of speech minimally.
Part of the Saskatchewan human rights legislation outlawed speech which "ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity of" a person. That part of the law, said the Supreme Court of Canada, is too broad. And they struck it down.
This case has been long-awaited. Queers have been holding our breath to see whether the Supreme Court of Canada would uphold our right to be free from malicious homophobic speech, or whether once again our rights would be seen as subordinate to someone else's rights to free speech, or freedom of religion.