Morgane Oger Foundation applauds Oger v Whatcott BC Human Rights Tribunal setting limits on publishing hatred
Vancouver, 27 March 2019
The Morgane Oger Foundation agrees with today’s BC Human Rights Tribunal:
Prohibitions against publishing hatred or inciting discrimination includes doing so against transgender persons on the basis of their gender identity or expression by denying the validity of their identity.
Protections afforded to Canadians by the Charter of Rights, such as freedom of expression or of religion, do not give an unlimited license to act in a discriminatory way against others on the basis of explicitly-prohibited grounds.
The protection from discrimination on the basis of gender identity includes refusing to recognize a transgender woman as a woman in publications.
During the 2017 BC election, Bill Whatcott travelled from his home town to Vancouver for the purpose of distributing flyers attacking Morgane Oger on the grounds of her being transgender. The flyer called transgender women an “impossibility” and associated transgender people with various diseases and violent acts. He has since then repeated this action and continuously harassed Ms Oger.
“Mr Whatcott’s actions were hurtful and humiliating, with so many watching in the midst of the 2017 election. I am deeply satisfied by the BC Human Rights Tribunal ruling. It confirms that what Mr Whatcotts actions are prohibited discrimination”, said Morgane Oger.
The BC Human Rights Code sets out laws to protect and promote human rights, including protection from discrimination and harassment based on gender identity or gender expression. These protections include section 7 which prohibits publishing material that incites hatred or encourages prohibited discrimination.
In its March 27 ruling, the BC Human Rights Tribunal ruled the following:
“The panel has found that Mr. Whatcott violated s. 7 of the Code. We order as follows:
Pursuant ss. 37(2)(a) and (b) of the Code, we declare that Mr. Whatcott’s conduct was discrimination contrary to the Code, and we order him to cease the contravention and refrain from committing the same or a similar contravention.
Pursuant to s. 37(2)(d)(iii), we order Mr. Whatcott to pay Ms. Oger $35,000 as compensation for injury to her dignity, feelings, and self‐respect.
Pursuant to s.37(4), we order Mr. Whatcott to pay Ms.Oger $20,000 as costs for improper conduct.
We order Mr. Whatcott to pay Ms. Oger post‐judgement interest on the amounts awarded until paid in full, based on the rates set out in the Court Order Interest Act. “ - BC Human Rights Tribunal
“Thanks to the tribunal ruling it is finally clear that people can’t hide behind their beliefs or free expression to incite discrimination against others“, Morgane Oger said. “I hope that by taking a stand in this precedent-setting case I am helping others in Canada find protection from hatred on the basis of who they are or who they love”, said Morgane Oger
The award may be the largest award to date by the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
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Morgane Oger, complainant: 604 398 3982 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Susanna Allevato Quail, lawyer: <email@example.com>