Borderland Pride has filed a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal, against the Township of Emo, and three councillors who defeated the group’s Pride resolution.
Borderland Pride is joined in its complaint by the Northern Ontario Pride Network, which is an umbrella organization for Pride groups across Ontario’s north, as well as by Douglas Judson, a gay man who grew up in the community and is an organizer of Borderland Pride, and Katie Shoemaker, a lesbian mother with a same-sex spouse who lives in Emo.
In addition to the municipality, the complaint is brought against Mayor Harold McQuaker, Councillor Harrold Boven, and Councillor Warren Toles. McQuaker, Boven, and Toles are the three members of council who refused to support the resolution at council meetings on May 12 and 26.
The complaint alleges discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, family status, and religion, which are all grounds protected by Ontario’s Human Rights Code.
Human rights cases in Ontario dating back to the mid-1990s have found that a municipal council’s failure to provide the service of a support resolution on the basis of a Code-protected ground constitutes discrimination. Several cases across Canada have reached this conclusion.
Among other things, the complaint seeks an order from the Tribunal requiring an apology from the municipality and that the mayor and two councillors undertake training at their own expense on diversity, inclusion, and human rights, with a focus on LGBTQ2 issues.
A financial award of $15,000 from the municipality and $10,000 from each councillor is also being sought. If ordered, the money will be used to fund Pride and LGBTQ2 inclusion programming in the Emo area.