The BC Humanist Association today submitted its response to the Government of BC's consultation on re-establishing the province's Human Rights Commission. As part of that brief, we pointed to the 1000 people who've signed our petition calling for "nonreligion" to be made a protected class in the Human Rights Code.Read more
In its brief, the BCHA highlights how religious privilege continues to marginalize the nonreligious and members of minority faith communities in Canada. It explores how the nonreligious in immigrant and indigenous communities are often unseen when the identities of diverse groups of people are reduced to the majority faith of the country they came from. Finally, it provides commentary on debates over terminology that have arisen in the context of this committee.Read more
The BC Humanist Association launched a petition today calling on the Government of BC to add "nonreligion" to the provincial Human Rights Code as a protected class.
The Government of BC is in the process of re-establishing a Human Rights Commission and is consulting on what changes should be made to BC's human rights laws.Read more
Atheists are not explicitly protected under BC law.
Religion was one of the first protected grounds enshrined in the BC Human Rights Code. But if an atheist, Humanist or person with no religion is discriminated against, they have to fight to be read into the law.
This isn't just a theoretical issue. In Quebec, when Humanists filed a complaint with their province's Human Rights Commission, they were told that since atheism and Humanism aren't religions they weren't protected under Quebec's Human Rights Code.
Without explicit inclusion in the BC Human Rights Code, people could lose their job, be evicted from their home or be persecuted for not believing in a god. They are then placed in the awkward position of having to claim they were discriminated because of a religion they do not profess. Whether or not they ultimately win their case, an atheist is made to start two steps behind a religious person when making a human rights complaint.
We have an opportunity to change things. The Government of BC has announced that they are re-establishing the Human Rights Commission and are consulting on what changes BC's Human Rights legislation needs.
Let's send them a signal: Add "nonreligion" as a protected class.
Please sign and share this petition before November 15, so we can submit it to the government before the consultation closes on November 17, 2017.
Image credit: Province of British Columbia/Flickr
Make nonreligion a protected class in BC
The Honorable David Eby, Attorney General
Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism
A majority of British Columbians do not practice a religion or faith and a quarter do not believe in a higher power. Yet pervasive anti-atheist bias remains in many corners of this province, particularly in smaller communities and in addictions treatment. While religion was one of the earliest protected grounds in human rights law, there is no explicit protection for the nonreligious in the BC Human Rights Code.
In April 2015, Madison, Wisconsin city council banned discrimination based on "religion or nonreligion" among other protected classes. In December 2016, the International Religious Freedom Act signed by President Obama included "non-theists" and protections for the right not to practice a religion.
In the same way that including "gender identity or expression" added clear protections for transgender individuals, adding nonreligion will provide clarity to tribunals, employers and landlords that atheists are equally protected under the law.
As you reform the BC Human Rights Code and establish a new Human Rights Commission, we urge you to add "nonreligion" to the province's list of protected classes.
The BC Humanist Association today wrote in support of the SOGI 123 resources being adopted by the Langley School Board.
SOGI stands for sexual orientation and gender identity and was created for BC teachers in partnership with the Ministry of Education, the BC Teachers Federation, nine school districts and Out in Schools. It aims to promote LGBTQ-inclusive education.
Religious conservatives and activists who view the curriculum materials as part of a "political cult" have been holding rallies and targeting Langley School District specifically, despite the program being in place in districts across the province and having received support from all levels of government and across the political spectrum.
A rally in support of SOGI 123 is being organized for September 26 by Langley Parents for Inclusivity.Read more
Winston Blackmore and James Oler were found guilty yesterday of polygamy. The two are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Bountiful BC and have over thirty wives between them.
Blackmore has welcomed the verdict, arguing it opens the opportunity for him to challenge the constitutionality of the law.Read more
Echoing calls by the BC Humanist Association last week, Education Minister Mike Bernier announced yesterday that all public and independent schools in BC will have to make explicit references to sexual orientation and gender identity in their anti-bullying policies.
Districts have been given until the end of the year to update their policies and the ARC Foundation has committed to funding a new advisor position to support more inclusive policies at all schools.Read more
Update (Sep 8, 2016): The Minister of Education has announced that all public and independent BC schools will now have to include specific protections for LGBTQ students in anti-bullying policies.
The BC Humanist Association wrote to BC's Minister of Education today to ask whether BC's government is willing to show a commitment to LGBTQ equality in BC schools.
In Alberta, the government is putting more and more pressure on public and private school boards to adopt policies to uphold the rights of LGBTQ students in the classroom.
A pastor who chairs two Baptist private schools in Alberta is refusing to follow a ministerial order that requires all schools to have a policy explicitly protecting LGBTQ students and staff. Instead the schools claim to have a "zero-tolerance anti-bullying policy" based on Christian principles.
The schools, like many private schools in Alberta and BC, receive significant funding from the provincial government.Read more
The City of Kelowna will no longer make anti-choice proclamations.
The office of Mayor Colin Basran declined the Kelowna Right to Life Society stating that "Proclamations are not approved if they ... advocate against human rights and freedoms under existing Canadian laws."
Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:
Given Kelowna's sordid history of mayors inserting their politics into proclamations, it's good to see the Mayor stand up for human rights and equality. We hope this commitment will extend to ensuring women's reproductive freedoms and patients' right to choose an assisted death.
Pride Week has just ended in Vancouver and for the sixth straight year members of the BC Humanist Association joined the annual Vancouver Pride Parade to show our solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.
This year, we built on our strengths. It was the first year that many of our supporters joined the Vancouver Dyke March as Humanists to show our support for social justice and marginalized communities. We also set up a table at the Vancouver Pride Festival for the first time and were overwhelmed by the support we received (we ran out of buttons before the day even ended).Read more