Posts Tagged ‘Discrimination’

Lessons for housing providers from the 2017 National Conference on LGBTTQIA2S Lives

October 3rd, 2017 by Elliot Fonarev

Montréal Pride (Fierté Montréal) hosted the 2017 National Conference on LGBTTQIA2S Lives in August. I had the privilege of attending as a student bursary recipient. The acronym, “LGBTTQIA2S” stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, intersex, asexual, and two-spirited – in this blog I also use the term “sexual and gender minorities” to refer to members of this community.

The conference brought together community and cultural partners, university researchers, and government representatives for a discussion of the important issues facing sexual and gender minorities across Canada today.  The workshops highlighted how different civil society groups, academics, businesses, and governments have approached civil and human rights, health and family rights, social and cultural issues, employment and workplace inclusion, migrant and refugee issues, and international issues and movements.  The topics focused on different realities and identities within the LGBTTQIA2S umbrella, raising a broad range of issues affecting different people in the community.  The overall theme that emerged from discussions was that although there have been many recent gains with respect to legal recognition and formal protections of sexual and gender minorities in Canada, many members of the LGBTTQIA2S communities continue to experience high levels of insecurity and marginalization and remain vulnerable in every sector of life.

One community in particular should be of interest to our clients who house and employ individuals from the LGBTTQIA2S communities: migrants and asylum seekers who are sexual and gender minorities.  One panel featured settlement workers who work exclusively with sexual and gender minorities in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, spoke of the difficulty that many of these individuals, particularly transgender migrants, experience in finding housing.  These individuals are at risk of encountering multiple kinds of discrimination due to the intersection of their status as migrants and sexual or gender minorities, and often race or ethnicity.  Many sexual and gender minorities who are not migrants and live in social housing communities also report feeling unwelcome and unsafe due to their sexual orientation or gender as well as other intersecting identities.

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Protecting housing and human rights without limiting options

September 28th, 2017 by Michael Hackl

This article was first published on rabble.ca

Canada has been facing a housing crisis for a number of years now, with rising costs affecting both homeowners and tenants. According to the Canadian Rental Housing Index, renters in Canada are spending an average of 22 per cent of their before-tax income on rent and utilities. Further, this index reported that 40 per cent of renter households were spending more than 30 per cent of their before-tax income on rent and utilities, and a staggering 19 per cent were spending over 50 per cent of their before-tax income on rent and utilities. Keep in mind that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) defines affordable housing as housing that costs less than 30 per cent of before-tax household income. This means that almost half of renter households in Canada are not in affordable housing, and one in five homes are spending over half of their before-tax income just to have a roof over their heads.

Imagine then, the relief that a family in Vancouver must have felt on being told that they had reached the top of a waiting list for a two-bedroom apartment that would have resulted in a significant reduction in their housing costs if they had been offered the unit. Unfortunately for them, the housing provider did not offer them the unit. At the time that the family was told that they were first on the waiting list, the family consisted of two parents and a two-year-old son, but the mother was seven months pregnant (and has since given birth to a baby girl). According to a voicemail left by a representative of the housing provider, they could not offer the family the unit because they did not know the sex of their then unborn child. For its part, the housing provider has said that the family was not being considered for the unit in any event, but the family feels they were passed over for this apartment because they have two young children of different sexes and the housing provider was unwilling to offer them a unit where those two children would share a bedroom.

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B.C. is revamping its human rights system. How can it ensure justice is served?

September 7th, 2017 by Celia Chandler

This article was first published on rabble.ca

In August, the new B.C. government took an important step: it decided to reinstate the B.C. Human Rights Commission, dismantled by the long-governing Liberals 15 years ago. This was not the first time that B.C.’s governments have taken a run at the human rights system. This year’s NDP announcement mirrors its restoration of the Commission in the 1990s after it was previously abolished by the Liberals in the Social Credit Action of 1983.

And good on the NDP for their persistence! Human Rights Commissions across the country play an important public advocacy role. They keep a watchful eye on larger system-wide problems — the myriad ways in which groups of people who are protected under provincial human rights legislation can be discriminated against. In Ontario, the Commission has been responsible for engaging in public consultations and preparing policies that help guide our society towards a fairer, less discriminatory society for people who have faced marginalization historically and still do today.

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With judges like Robin Camp, how impartial is Canada’s justice system?

September 29th, 2016 by Shelina Ali

This article was first published on rabble.ca

I was recently listening to a radio program featuring racialized lawyers in Ontario discussing the challenges they faced in the legal profession and was struck by my reaction. I thought: how unfortunate that this was all being shared publically. Unfortunate, not because I did not believe the experiences of these individuals or sympathize with the challenges they were describing, but because I didn’t want people to know about the challenges. Why would anyone hire a racialized lawyer if they knew that the lawyer felt that there was a higher standard placed on them in court, by judges, as compared with their non‑racialized colleagues?

I wish my reaction was that this was the unusual experience of one lawyer and not a reflection of the justice system’s treatment of marginalized groups generally. Instead, it was one which exposed my own distrust in the Canadian judicial system and its impartiality. And my belief that the justice system as a whole does not provide the same opportunities and access to justice for individuals of colour, women, and other marginalized groups.

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From Rio to Tokyo, gender discrimination in sport continues

August 25th, 2016 by Katie Douglas

This article was first published on rabble.ca

Caster Semenya, a South-African woman, ran and won the women’s 800-metre race at the 2016 Rio Olympics on Saturday night. Semenya has hyperandrogenism, a condition that causes her body to produce more testosterone than the average woman. Controversy around Semenya dates back to 2009 when she was forced to undergo blood and chromosome tests and a gynecological exam to prove that she is a woman. Many have argued that her high testosterone levels give her an unfair athletic advantage and she should either take medication to bring her testosterone levels in line with those of average women or be barred from competing.

This controversy brings to light one of society’s most persistent and destructive myths — that sex is a binary concept and our deeply entrenched view of the two genders and their respective roles is to be upheld in all areas from domestic tasks to sporting competitions. Athletes like Semenya are important because her participation raises the arbitrary and exclusive nature of this falsehood and the question of what society is going to do about it on an international and high‑profile stage. Read the rest of this entry

Bill C-16 introduces transgender protections but keeps Harper’s damaging human rights legacy

May 26th, 2016 by Shelina Ali

This article was first published on rabble.ca

Last week, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-16, an Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code of Canada to protect transgender individuals from discrimination and hate propaganda. The bill is almost identical to Bill C-279, a private member’s bill introduced in 2012 by NDP MP Randall Garrison. The two bills seek to make very simple amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and the Criminal Code of Canada (Criminal Code): to provide protection from discrimination and from hate propaganda based on gender identity or expression.

The history and fate of the previous Bill C-279, together with prior amendments to the CHRA carried out by the Harper government in 2012 under Bill C-304, provide important insight into why the reintroduction of these amendments is so important — but also how, through Bill C-16, the Liberal government has failed to take advantage of a crucial opportunity to undo Harper’s damaging impact on the scope of equality rights protections available to Canadians under the CHRA. Read the rest of this entry