Sexual Orientation - Sexual Orientation 9.1 The Canadian...

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Sexual Orientation 9.1) The Canadian Context: November 17 th , 2011 Aaron Webster’s death was believed to have been British Columbia’s first lethal incident of “gay bashing” Aaron’s Webster’s death was described as a “hate crime” and brought up many issues. o One of those issues being the adequacy of the definition of a “hate crime” under Canada’s Criminal Code According to Canada’s Criminal Code at the time, crimes committed against sexual orientation minorities were not (technically speaking) a “hate crime” It was NDP Member of Parliament Sven Robinson who tabled a private members bill, C-250, in the House of Commons in 2003, which was passed by the senate in 2004. Thus sexual orientation minorities were included in the laws against hate crimes. o The bill extended Canada’s already existing hate law crime to include as an “identifiable group” those who experience hate crimes as a result of their perceived sexual orientation; one not need to be lesbian, transgendered, bisexual or gay, to experience a hate crime. In principle, our hate crimes law is intended to protect not only specific groups, but also our national value of multiculturalism. o The laws send a clear message stating that prejudice is no excuse and that the courts and nation don’t agree that some people deserve a “beating” because of such things as skin color, race, ethnicity, religion or sexuality At the foundation of that law, hate crimes are specifically identified as distinct from other forms of crime because they inflict was is called “ disproportionate harm” on the victims According to Garafolo and Martin (1991) three distinct characteristics separate hate crimes from other crimes 1. Hate crimes attack core feature of victims identity 2. Hate crimes negatively impact entire communities by making other members of a vulnerable group fear for their safety and security 3. Injuries that result from hate crimes are more severe than injuries resulting from crimes not motivated by hate The bill introduced by NDP MP Bill Siksay, sought out to include both gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds for discrimination as well, and to make targeted crimes based on gender identity/expression punishable under Canada’s Criminal Code (bill was passed in December 2010) Sexuality has often been thought of in terms of “sexual orientation” , where individuals are classified as hetero-, bi- or homosexual based on their emotional and sexual attractions, relationships and self- identification. Current scholarship and activism in the field note that the concept of orientation now encourages the assumption that all people in a given identity category share identical and unchanging desires and practices o Take a look at Biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling who has taken her own life as an example of the shifts that can occur in ones life and how the simple use of “orientation” simply cannot account

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