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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. OHRC remarks to the Ontario Legislative Standing Committee on Social Policy regarding Bill 13 and Bill 14

    I am here today on behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission to indicate our general support for this proposed legislation.Let there be no doubt. Bullying is a critical human rights matter. Ontario’s Human Rights Code is Ontario’s highest law. All schools, including public, Catholic and private, have a legal duty to provide students with an educational environment free from harassment and other forms of discrimination because of their race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability and sex including gender identity.

  2. OHRC comment to the Ontario Ministry of Labour regarding Canada’s 2012 ILO Article 22 Report on Discrimination Convention 111

    This submission outlines recent developments for the reporting period June 1, 2011 through May 31, 2012 related to discrimination in employment and the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (the OHRC) mandate. It includes OHRC activities, recent case law and comment regarding relevant ILO Committee observations and direct requests.

  3. Sexual harassment & sex discrimination at work

    From: OHRC policy position on sexualized and gender-specific dress codes

    March 8, 2016 - The OHRC recognizes the severe impacts of sexual harassment on working women and trans people. It can reduce employees’ morale, decrease productivity and contribute to physical and emotional effects such as anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. The United Nations’ Declaration of the Elimination of Violence Against Women specifically recognizes that sexual harassment is a form of violence against women.

  4. 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.
  5. Discussion paper: Human rights issues in insurance

    October 1999 - The objective of the Paper is twofold: to promote dialogue on protecting human rights in the insurance industry and to examine alternatives to current practices by obtaining input from experts, regulators and consumers. Access to insurance in our society raises significant issues about distributive justice and fairness in the public sphere, issues that have received scant attention in Canada and in Ontario where rate setting has traditionally been viewed as a private matter.
  6. 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.

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