Posts Tagged ‘law’

Queer Ontario Responds to the Tory Omnibus Crime Bill

December 6th, 2011 No comments

Tory’s Tough on Crime Bill may be Tough on Consensual Sex, says Queer Ontario

The Harper government’s harsh and ideologically motivated “tough on crime” omnibus legislation, Bill C-10 (The Safe Streets and Communities Act), contains a new provision that may be tough on consensual sex if the police and the courts decide to use it to keep sex strictly confined to the bedrooms of the nation.  An amendment to s. 173.(1) of the Criminal Code (indecent acts) will make it possible for anyone who “willfully does an indecent act in a public place in the presence of one or more persons” to be found guilty of an indictable offence and be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years.  This marks a significant change from the current s. 173.(1) which designates “indecent act” as a summary conviction offence for which the maximum penalty is imprisonment for not more than six months.  The amendment will give a Crown prosecutor the discretion to determine whether to proceed with a case against someone charged with the offence as a summary conviction offence or an indictable offence.
“The problem with the ‘indecent act’ section of the Criminal Code, all along, has been its vagueness as to just what constitutes an ‘indecent act’ because that term is not defined in the Criminal Code,” says Richard Hudler, of Queer Ontario. “It is left completely to the police, in terms of laying charges, and to the courts, in terms of a finding of guilt, to determine whether a place is ‘public’ and whether an act committed in that place is ‘indecent’”.
What constitutes a “public place” is equally vague.  S. 150 of the Criminal Code defines it as including “any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, express or implied.”  People of any gender could be charged and convicted of an “indecent act” for engaging in consenting sexual acts on a beach, in a park, in a parked car, at a sex party or in a bathhouse. Historically, police have laid indecent act charges during raids on bathhouses and sex clubs and against people having sex in secluded places in parks late at night.  Even a sex party with invitations and advertising could be argued to be a public place and could be raided by the police, with indecent act charges being laid against the participants they find having sex. Queer liberation groups have long called for the abolition of the “indecent act” offence because of the way in which it has been used to target and repress consensual sex and to enforce morality.
“Now, the Harper government, in a gesture clearly aimed at catering to its social conservative constituency and their anti-sex morality agenda, is about to make a vague and odious law even more severe,” Richard Hudler states.  “It is appalling and deplorable that adults engaging in consensual sex could potentially be sent to prison for up to two years. This amendment to s.173.(1) must be defeated.”

Richard Hudler
Download: Queer Ontario Omnibus Crime Bill Statement

Queer Ontario Questions the Scope of Wednesday’s Anti-Bullying Bills

December 2nd, 2011 No comments

For Immediate Release

Queer Ontario Questions the Scope of Wednesday’s Anti-Bullying Bills
Calls for explicit protections and a more holistic approach to student bullying

TORONTO – Queer Ontario believes Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten is moving in the right direction with the introduction of Bill 13 (the Accepting Schools Act), which will support students who want to establish activities or organizations that address the needs and experiences of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities — like LGBTQ support groups [Accepting Schools Act Amendment 9]. While we appreciate the explicit mention of homophobia as a mentality that needs to be addressed in schools to prevent the bullying of students who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual; we are disappointed to find that heterosexism, cisgenderism, and transphobia are not mentioned whatsoever, and that gender identity and gender expression are inconsistently addressed throughout.

Similarly, when it comes to Bill 14 (the Anti-Bullying Bill) introduced by Progressive Conservative MPP Elizabeth Witmer on the same day, how can we be assured that the Anti-Bullying Act will duly address the bullying of LGBTQ students — or any marginalized student, for that matter — if it does not make any explicit mention of them? That is: how can we be assured that this legislation will be applied equally to all students without sidelining anyone for fear of the Government being accused of pandering to so-called “interest groups”?

It is also curious that it is taking a series of youth suicides due to bullying that the provincial government is only now addressing the issue of GSAs in Ontario high schools, despite existing PPM 145 that already permits them in all high schools throughout the province, which the Liberals refused to implement. In essence, Bill 13 curtails PPM 145 by permitting Catholic schools to name LGBTQ support groups with other names with less currency.

To address these issues, and to ensure the full and proper protection of marginalized LGBTQ students, we are calling on the Government of Ontario to do the following:

1. To develop a clear, comprehensive, and unequivocal definition of bullying, be it by the two parties who have introduced these Bills, or by Parliament as a whole.

2. To amend these Bills, in whatever form they ultimately take, to include explicit protections for transsexual, transgender, two-spirited, intersexed, and questioning students on the basis of transphobia and cisgenderism – a provision currently lacking from them.

3. To include compliance mechanisms in these Bills, in whatever form they ultimately take, to explicitly outline repercussions for School Administration, Boards, etc. that do not comply with the legislation. The compliance mechanisms must outline what the Ministry will do if School Administration, Boards, etc. fail to comply with the legislation and what specific actions the Ministry will take to ensure compliance.

4. To include a mechanism in these bills for youth to bypass School Administration, Boards, etc. if they are facing challenges with the formation of Gay-Straight Alliances or with school compliance with these Bills, in whatever form they ultimately take, such as teacher or staff bullying of students. This could take the form of an Ombudsman for Youth, Compliance Officer or a similar sort of position at the Ministry of Education that youth in Ontario schools can contact if they feel they are not properly being supported by their Administration or School Boards.

5. To include protections for teachers from bullying in the school environment as well as protections for teachers engaging in anti-bullying and/or equity and social justice work from harassment, oppression, marginalization or repercussions for performing such work.

6. To re-implement the new Physical and Health Curriculum, that included formal and explicit education about the problems behind the demeaning mentalities that fuelled bullying — like racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, cisgenderism, cissexism, fatphobia, and ableism.

7. To update the Humanities and Social Sciences curriculum to include an accurate and comprehensive portrayal of LGBTQ persons and their particular needs and experiences; as well as the history of the LGBTQ rights movement and the achievements of historic LGBTQ figures and their contributions to society. Representing the livelihoods and achievements of LGBTQ persons communicates the idea that LGBTQ persons are a very important part of society, and that we shouldn’t be unjustly oppressed or marginalized.

8. To include human rights protections of transsexual, transgender, two-sirited, intersexed, and genderqueer individuals via the inclusion of “gender identity” and “gender expression” as prohibited grounds for discrimination and violence in the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Criminal Code of Canada.

We have requested a meeting with Minister Broten, MPP Witmer and Peter Tabuns (MPP; Education Critic, NDP) to discuss how to move forward on these bills or what hopefully will evolve into an amended bill taking into account input from stakeholders. At press time we have not heard back from any of the ministers. It’s time Queen’s Park got serious about homophobic, heterosexist, transphobic and cisgenderist bullying in all Ontario schools. We hope sincerely that the parties can work together to formulate a bill that addresses the comprehensive needs of LGBTQ youth in Ontario schools.



RECOGNIZE! The 25th Anniversary celebration of the inclusion of ‘Sexual Orientation’ into the Ontario Human Rights Code

November 26th, 2011 No comments

Queer Ontario would like to cordially invite all members of our LGBTQ communities to come to RECOGNIZE! The 25th Anniversary celebration of the inclusion of ‘Sexual Orientation’ into the Ontario Human Rights Code. It promises to be an evening full of merriment and remembrance.

Special guests Tom Warner and Susan Gapka will be present to speak about recognition struggles past and present; and we will be presenting the John Damien Award for Outstanding Activism to an individual or group that has caused a major stir this year.

So please, come on by, bring your guests, and celebrate with us.

When: Sunday, December 4, 2011. 7:00 – 10:00 PM
Where: Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
    12 Alexander Street, Toronto, ON
Note: The Program is set to start at 8:00 PM

Visit our Facebook event page for further details:

Special Thanks to our sponsors:

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives