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Sex

The Code does not specifically define the ground of “sex,” but the OHRC considers it to be related to a person’s biological sex, male or female. Men and women receive equal protection under this ground. The ground of “sex” also includes a broader notion of “gender,” which can be described as the social characteristics attributed to each sex.

The Code protects men and women from harassment and discrimination, including assumptions about their abilities that result from stereotypes about how men and women ”should” behave, dress or interact. The right to equal treatment without discrimination because of sex also applies to pregnancy.

Relevant policies: 

  1. Restrictions of facilities by sex

    From: Guide to your rights and responsibilities under the Human Rights Code

    This section allows separate washrooms, examination areas, change rooms and other services that are men-only or women-only. Trans people should be provided access to facilities that are consistent with their lived gender identity.[34]


    [34] For more information, see the OHRC’s Policy on discrimination and harassment because of gender identity (2000).

  2. Policy on preventing sexual and gender-based harassment

    May 2013 - Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination based on sex. The Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) prohibits all forms of discrimination based on sex, and includes provisions that focus on sexual harassment. The principles set out in this policy will, depending on the circumstances, apply to instances of sexual harassment in any of the social areas covered by the Code. However, to reflect the most important recent developments in the law and in social science research, this policy will focus on the areas of employment, housing and education.

  3. 9.3. Intersections with sex

    From: Minds that matter: Report on the consultation on human rights, mental health and addictions

    There is a close connection between mental health disabilities, addictions and gendered violence. Women who are survivors of violence, trauma and abuse often face substance use and mental health issues.[61] Several women reported gender-based violence related to having a mental health history. Some said they were sexually harassed or assaulted by patients or staff while hospitalized for a psychiatric disability.

  4. Sexual harassment in education (brochure)

    2011 - The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits sexual harassment in education. “Education” includes primary, secondary and post-secondary education, and school activities such as sports, arts and cultural activities, school functions, field trips and tutoring. Sexual harassment may also occur as part of school rituals, such as when initiating new students, new players in team sports, or new members of sororities and fraternities. More and more, students are being sexually harassed online. Technology, such as e-mail, blogs, social networking sites, chat rooms, dating websites, text messaging features, etc., provides new frontiers for the sexual harassment.

  5. Sexual harassment in housing (fact sheet)

    The Ontario Human Rights Code says everyone has the right to be free from sexual harassment by their landlord, someone working for their landlord, or someone who lives in the same building. Because landlords are in a position of authority, and have access to apartments and often hold personal information, tenants can feel very threatened when they are sexually harassed. This may be especially true for low-income, racialized, gay and lesbian people, people with disabilities and other people identified by the Code who are sometimes targeted for sexual harassment.

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