“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.
On May 14, 2010, Ontario’s Divisional Court issued a decision on a case called Ontario Human Rights Commission v. Christian Horizons. The Divisional Court’s ruling was on the appeal of a 2008 decision made by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. In that decision, the Tribunal found that Christian Horizons infringed the rights of an employee who was in a same sex relationship.
This document explains the legal backdrop for the Commission’s Policy Framework. It is divided into two main sections. The first provides an overview and summary of key legal principles from some significant legal decisions. This section aims to help readers understand the relevant legal background when seeking to conciliate or otherwise reconcile competing rights claims. The second part of the document surveys the leading cases that deal with competing rights. It also provides examples of situations where the leading cases, and the key principles from them, have been applied by courts and tribunals. It is divided by the types of rights conflicts that most commonly arise. The cases are discussed in some detail as the specific factual context of each case is so important to the rights reconciliation process.
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.