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Sexual orientation: prohibited ground of discrimination and harassment | CDPDJ

Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation

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You believe you have been a victim of discrimination or harassment based on this ground?

Sexual orientation refers to people’s ability to feel an emotional, affective and sexual attraction toward individuals of the opposite sex, the same sex or more than one sex. For instance, a person may be heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. (In the case of transgender people, please consult the grounds for discrimination based on gender identity or expression).

Sexual orientation is a prohibited ground of discrimination and harassment. This means that you cannot be treated differently because you are heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. Also, you cannot be the target of offensive and repeated remarks or behaviour because of your actual or alleged sexual orientation. These situations are contrary to the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window..

For instance, you cannot be fired or encouraged to resign because of your homosexuality.

Françoise is a lesbian working for a gay rights advocacy group. She goes to a printer to get some flyers printed for a fundraising activity organized by her group. The printer refuses to do business with her because he is “against gays and lesbians”.

 

The following judgments are examples related to this ground of discrimination. The complete list of judgments issued by Canadian Courts are available on the Canadian Legal Information Institute’s website This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window.. You can do a search by grounds of discrimination.

Here are some of our publications related to this ground of discrimination. You can find all our publications on this ground of discrimination using a keyword on the Publications' page.

English language translations are provided when available.

Here are some news releases published by the Commission over the years. You can find all our news releases on this ground of discrimination using a keyword on the Media room’s page.

English language translations are provided when available.

Please note: These answers are to be used for information purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice.

  1. Some co-workers think I am gay and regularly make jokes and derogatory remarks regarding my sexual orientation. When I mentioned this to my supervisor, he told me not to listen to them and that they will stop once they realize I am not gay. Am I a victim of harassment?

    Yes, and your employer has the obligation to take every means possible to stop your co-workers’ behaviour.

  2. Employees are encouraged to be accompanied by their spouses at the annual company party. As a new employee, I asked my supervisor if I could bring my same-sex spouse and he answered, “It’s not a problem for me, but some employees won’t like it”. Can he ask me to go to the party alone to avoid tensions with my colleagues?

    No, he does not have the right to make such a request. Your employer must ensure a respectful and discrimination-free environment for all.

  3. My landlord discovered that the two women renting apartment 5 are lesbians. He wants to make them move out claiming that: “There are children living in the building. That’s not good for them”. Does he have the right to do that?

    No. Landlords cannot discriminate against tenants because of their sexual orientation since it is a prohibited ground of discrimination.

  4. The owners of a camp site turned back a gay couple claiming it’s geared for families. Are they allowed to do that?

    No. The Charter prohibits discrimination against a person or persons based on sexual orientation. In addition, no one can deny others access to public transport, or public places, including camp and trailer sites.

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The following video is in American Sign Language (ASL) and is not accessible with a screen reader.

This video presents the topic of sexual orientation in American Sign Language (ASL)  This link will redirect you to an external website which may present barriers to accessibility..

 

Did you know?

In 1977, the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms was amended to include sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination. Québec then became the first province in Canada to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

 

To learn more