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The British Columbia Human Rights Code -- text of statute and official interpretations

December 15, 2018

The British Columbia Human Rights Code is a bizarre concoction of political correctness, including radical LGBT ideology. The section that applied to Bill Whatcott was Section 7, which outlaws publications containing discriminatory "hate speech." The three-judge panel hearing the complaint against Whatcott at the BC Human Rights Tribunal also focused on the newly added (2016) “protected” group defined by “gender identity or expression.” At Whatcott's hearing, the Tribunal is giving the text its most far-reaching interpretation — including the decree that "truth is no defense" — which they hope will set a precedent for further rulings.

Below are excerpts from the text of the statute and official interpretations. The emphasis is ours.

Personal Characteristics Protected in the BC Human Rights Code

(Newly added in 2016)

Gender expression is how a person presents their gender. This can include behaviour and appearance, including dress, hair, make-up, body language and voice. This can also include name and pronoun, such as he, she or they. How a person presents their gender may not necessarily reflect their gender identity.

Gender identity is a person’s sense of themselves as male, female, both, in between or neither. It includes people who identify as transgender. Gender identity may be different or the same as the sex a person is assigned at birth.

Text of the entire BC Human Rights Code statute

Text of the relevant section of the Code: Discriminatory publication (Section 7)

Discriminatory publication 7   (1) A person must not publish, issue or display, or cause to be published, issued or displayed, any statement, publication, notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation that (a) indicates discrimination or an intention to discriminate against a person or a group or class of persons, or (b) is likely to expose a person or a group or class of persons to hatred or contempt because of the race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or age of that person or that group or class of persons.

Human Rights Regarding Publications

… The Code only prohibits discrimination in publications that have very serious effects in relation to a personal characteristic. This is because people have a right to express themselves. Publications that are only offensive are allowed. 

A publication discriminates if it is likely to expose a person or group to hatred or contempt. This means that a reasonable person, aware of the context and circumstances surrounding the publication, would view it as likely to expose a person or group to hatred or contempt on the basis of a personal characteristic.

Generally, only extreme and egregious statements are prohibited. Hatred or contempt refers to extreme signs of emotion of “detestation” and “vilification”…

It is not enough for a publication to encourage mere disdain or dislike, or to discredit, humiliate or offend the members of the group. It is not enough that the publication is hurtful.

A repugnant or offensive idea is not enough, on its own, to violate the Code. The Code does not prohibit expressions which are repugnant or offensive, unless they incite a level of abhorrence, delegitimization or rejection that risks causing discrimination or other harmful effects.

The intent of the person expressing the idea does not matter. What matters is the likely effect of expressing the idea. Would a reasonable person consider that the expression has the potential to lead to discrimination or other harmful effects?

This will depend on the context of a message.

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