UTP Celebrates WorldPride: Fighting for Human Rights

June 25, 2014

gay-rights-1012Same-sex rights have progressed drastically since Everett Klippertwas imprisoned for admitting he was gay in 1965. This ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada led to a demand to amend the legal rights and human rights of homosexual Canadians. On December 22, 1967 Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau proposed amendments to the Criminal Code that would relax laws against homosexuality, which sparked a series of legal battles aimed at achieving equal rights for LGBTIQQ2SA communities.

On July 20, 2005, Canada became the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage, nationwide. It has taken years of legal reform, but Canada has increased its awareness of the challenges that LGBTIQQ2SA communities face and continue to ensure they are given equal human and legal rights. For more insight into the progression of homosexual rights in Canada’s legal system, check out these articles from the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law:

Dafnos, Tia. “What Does Being Gay Have to Do with It? A Feminist Analysis of the Jubran Case.” Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice/La Revue Canadienne De Criminologie Et De Justice Pénale 49.5 (2007): 561-85.

Azmi Jubran was subjected to homophobic harassment throughout his high school experience. In 1996, he filed a human rights complaint against the Vancouver School Board alleging discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. His case was the first in Canada to deal with the issue of school responsibility for peer-to-peer harassment. It also makes a significant contribution to the jurisprudence in the realm of sexual orientation harassment and discrimination. This is because Jubran did not identify as homosexual. Using a critical feminist analysis, this paper analyses the decisions and opinions of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, Superior Court, and Court of Appeal regarding the relevance of sexual orientation identity and the recognition of harm in the case. Drucilla Cornell’s concept of sexual shame, Gail Mason’s linking of sexuality harassment to visibility and naming, and Judith Butler’s discussion of the power of words to injure are discussed in relation to the case as to whether it would qualify as harassment under these conceptualizations. It is argued that while the precedent carries the possibility of eliminating homophobia in schools, there are significant concerns with the legalistic human rights mechanism that potentially undermine efforts to eliminate oppression and achieve social equality.

Moore, Dawn, and Angus Maclean Rennie. “Hated Identities: Queers and Canadian Anti-hate Legislation.” Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice/La Revue Canadienne De Criminologie Et De Justice Pénale 48.5 (2006): 823-36.

Drawing on queer theory and post-structuralism, this article explores two “gay bashings,” the murders of Alain Brousseau and Aaron Webster. In both cases, we argue that the application of anti-hate crime legislation reveals the troubling nature of attempts to legally fix sexual identities. The law imagines gayness to be innate and obvious. These cases show that sexual identity is fluid and contingent. Our study also shows that, through the application of hate-crime law, sexual identification is not necessarily self-determined. Politicized communities, legal actors, assailants, and media all participate in naming someone’s “gayness.”

Leckey, Robert. “The Practices of Lesbian Mothers and Quebec’s Reforms.” Canadian Journal of Women and the Law/Revue Femmes Et Droit 23.2 (2011): 579-99.

Since 2002, Quebec has provided a means for a child to acquire two parents of the same sex via the original act of birth. This article presents Quebec’s 2002 reforms relating to filiation to an English-language Canadian readership. It also aims to enlarge the doctrinal discourse in that province, where a positivist approach still prevails. It adopts an affirmatively anti-homophobic and feminist approach and draws on feminist methodological concerns with the experience of women’s lives. The article takes three elements of Quebec’s regime and holds them against accounts of the parenting practices of lesbian couples drawn from the social sciences literature. The elements are the lack of formality for the exchange of consent that creates a parental project, the recognition of two women as legal “mothers,” and the restriction to a pair of parents at most. The argument is that the lack of formality finds little support in the practices of lesbian parents, while recognizing two “mothers” and restricting parents to two rests on substantial—but not uncontradicted—evidence. Indeed, the complexity of the social science accounts hints at the difficulties of straightforward assumptions that family law can ever “reflect” or “fit” social practices.

Leckey, Robert. “Transforming Law’s Family: The Legal Recognition of Planned Lesbian Motherhood.” Canadian Journal of Women and the Law/Revue Femmes Et Droit 24.2 (2012): 482-88.

In the way of the best socio-legal scholarship, Fiona Kelly’s new book combines empirical research, theoretical engagement, and critical awareness of law’s limits. Transforming Law’s Family contributes substantially to the Canadian and international literature on lesbian mothering, gay men, and lesbians’ efforts to secure family recognition, and the interaction between official and unofficial regulation. The book’s major contributions are threefold. One is the overview of lesbian mothers’ “legal and social context” and the critical review of developments by which gay men and lesbians in Canada have achieved legal recognition of their adult intimate relationships and their connections with their children. Both chapters combine careful synthesis of legal developments and the state of law with the critique. While addressing the legal problems facing planned lesbian parents and surveying judicial decisions, Kelly notes that only the legislature of Quebec has address planned lesbian parenting involving known donors by means of comprehensive legislation.

Marvel, Stu. ““Tony Danza Is My Sperm Donor?”: Queer Kinship and the Impact of Canadian Regulations around Sperm Donation.” Canadian Journal of Women and the Law/Revue Femmes Et Droit 25.2 (2013): 221-48.

Based upon an empirical research study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit, and queer (LGBTQ) people accessing reproductive technology, this article aims to lay out some concerns around the use of third-party donor sperm in Canada. It tracks the new forms of lateral kinships being created and the ways in which they may exert a differentiated impact on LGBTQ communities. The article overviews relevant federal regulations and legislation and uses this grounding to investigate the case study of a lesbian couple in Toronto and their experience with anonymous donor sperm imported from the United States. Their story helps to highlight the many lacuna that exist in the present regulatory regime and demonstrates how LGBTQ people are placed disproportionately at the fore of these pressing legal gaps. Ultimately, while the article argues that the effects of poorly crafted legislation around semen donation may be pronounced in LGBTQ communities, these effects may be experienced by all users of anonymous third-party sperm. By centring the queer family at the heart of the analysis, however, this article calls for a fresh look at how reproductive projects through assisted technology are being pursued under the present Canadian legal regime.

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