B.C. transgender woman wins discrimination suit

Christian activist ordered to pay $35,000 in discrimination award, fine

A B.C. transgender woman has won a BC Human Rights Tribunal battle against a Christian activist who claimed she could not run for office because she was, in his belief, a biological male who had embraced a transvestite lifestyle.

Morgane Oger ran as an NDP candidate in Vancouver-False Creek in 2017, almost defeated Liberal candidate Sam Sullivan, a former Vancouver mayor.

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William Whatcott created a flyer entitled “Transgenderism vs. Truth in Vancouver‐False Creek.”

There, he expressed concern “about the promotion and growth of homosexuality and transvestitism in British Columbia and how it is obscuring the immutable truth our God given gender.”

He described being transgender as a sinful “impossibility.”

Whatcott handed out 1,500 copies of the flyer, the 105-page decision said.

“B.C.’s media and the NDP are promoting a false narrative that Ronan (Oger’s birth first name) is a woman born into a male body,” the flyer said.

The three-member tribunal panel concluded the flyer “indicated an intention to discriminate against Ms. Oger and is likely to expose her and other transgender people to hatred or contempt.”

“We were witness to repeated, deliberate, and flagrant attacks on Ms. Oger based on nothing more than a belief that her very existence is an affront,” the decision said of Whattcott’s behaviour in the case.

Oger called the decision “a huge win.”

“It puts another solid wall up to protect people from hate propaganda in Canada,” Oger said.

And, she said, the ruling means Charter rights of religion and freedom of speech do not have unlimited scope.

“He violated the hate speech provisions,” Oger said.

The decision said, “transgender people often find their very existence the subject of public debate and condemnation” and “less worthy of dignity, respect, and rights.”

Aggravating the situation, the tribunal said, was that Whatcott’s behaviour had come during an election campaign where a person from a marginalized group sought to push against the doors of government that had long been closed to them.

The tribunal awarded Oger $55,000.

Of that total, $35,000 was an award to Oger for discrimination and $20,000 a fine for improper conduct.

“Anything less  would not be sufficient to signal the Tribunal’s strong condemnation of Mr. Whatcott’s conduct and to deter similar behaviour in the future,” panel member Devyn Cousineay wrote in the tribunal decision.

Whatcott could not be contacted for comment. In the past he has been accused of distributing 3,000 pamphlets containing “hateful content” to Pride Toronto’s 2016 parade attendees.

In 2014, Whatcott and other evangelical Christians took part in the Vancouver Pride parade, carrying a banner for the Calgary Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. They handed out thousands of “gospel condoms” to spread the word that “those who give themselves over to homosexuality suffer grievously because of their sin.”


Reporter Jeremy Hainsworth can be contacted at jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca


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