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Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation” is a personal characteristic that forms part of who you are. It covers the range of human sexuality from lesbian and gay, to bisexual and heterosexual. Sexual orientation is different from gender identity, which is protected under the ground of “sex.” The Code makes it against the law to discriminate against someone or to harass them because of their sexual orientation. 

This right to be free from discrimination and harassment applies to employment, services and facilities, accommodation and housing, contracts and membership in unions, trade or professional associations. Homophobic conduct and comment are prohibited as part of the Code’s protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation, no matter what the target’s sexual orientation is, or is perceived to be.

Relevant policy:

  1. Policy on HIV/AIDS-related discrimination

    November 1996 - This policy clarifies the scope of the Code's protection for persons who are or are perceived to be infected with HIV or who have contracted HIV-related illnesses. The guidelines contained in this policy are based on extensive consultations between the OHRC and a wide-ranging number of interest and advocacy groups, employer groups, services providers, and members of the medical community, including hospital administrators.
  2. Policy on discrimination and harassment because of sexual orientation

    January 2006 - This policy sets out the position of the OHRC with respect to sexual orientation at the time of publication, and replaces the OHRC’s earlier policy, approved in January 2000. The policy was developed based on extensive research and community consultations, and was updated in 2006 to reflect the significant legal and legislative changes that took place after the initial document was approved. This policy deals primarily with issues that could form the basis of a human rights claim of discrimination. The policy is therefore bounded by the provisions of the Code and Canada’s legal framework for analyzing discrimination. At the same time, the policy interprets the protections in the Code in a broad and purposive manner.