In Saskatchewan, a transgender bride who was not allowed to try on wedding gowns at a shop in Saskatoon says she will be filing a formal human rights complaint. Rohit Singh said her experience, at Jenny's Bridal Boutique, deeply affected her, in part because she had higher expectations of Canada. "I like to say Canada is so acceptable [with] equal rights for everyone," Singh told CBC News. "At least they should learn a lesson, so after seeing this no other bridal store — or any store — will do this in the future like they did with me." Saskatchewan's human rights commissioner David Arnot told CBC News Friday any discrimination, whether it is direct or indirect that a transgender person experiences as the result of a store's policy or rule, is still a human rights violation. "We live in a multicultural, multidimensional Saskatchewan and these cases are increasing," Arnot said. "We are noticing more and more transgender cases, particularly cases of bullying of at the high school level. We also are aware that Transgender Saskatchewan is very concerned about this. We have met with them." The process, after a complaint is filed, could lead to the commission offering to mediate the issue between the two parties. If the complaint is not resolved at that stage, the commission could have the case go to a hearing to determine if the complaint has merit and, if so, what should happen. It is a process that can take years, but Singh said she is prepared for that, adding she does not think she is asking for too much. "We don't need anything from anyone," Singh said. "We just need a little respect. That's it." The owner of the bridal shop said she was concerned some customers in the store would be uncomfortable with Singh trying on gowns.
An update on a previous post: In Mississauga, Ontario, a City Centre real estate agent has been fired for distributing a controversial flyer to residents in Lorne Park and Port Credit earlier this week. RE/MAX Realty One sales agent Andrew Ciastek was let go Friday afternoon in the wake of publishing what many residents view as homophobic material in a recent newsletter. On Wednesday, the Sussex Centre realtor said he will issue a formal apology and make a donation to a local charity of RE/MAX's choosing. "We cannot and will not tolerate any form of discriminatory behaviour," said Christine Martysiewicz, director of internal and public relations for RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada. "It's unfortunate that the actions of one individual have tarnished the good built by the close to 10,000 sales associates within the organization." The piece in question was a research study saying that unemployment is three times higher among offspring of homosexual couples than those of heterosexual couples. The soundly discredited study was conducted by Mark Regnerus, a Texas University sociology professor. The flyer cites the report as having been originally published in Social Research Science, although Ciastek says he found it in a copy of Polish Weekly Magazine. RE/MAX has been working with Peel Regional Police's Hate Crime Division and has been informed that no charges will be laid against Ciastek. Lorne Park resident Jon McDonald contacted The News when he saw the flyer Tuesday and filed complaints with RE/MAX, Peel Regional Police, the Real Estate Council of Ontario and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. "It's just not right," said McDonald, a retired elementary school teacher who hopes RE/MAX will donate to the Peel Children's Aid Society or some other anti-bullying group in the city. "I think in the wake of a pro basketball player coming out and with Canada being so forthright around the world that people admire us for having same-sex marriage for several years now, it's idiotic to say that unemployment is higher among homosexual-raised children than heterosexual-raised children."
In Cape Town, South Africa, the plight of the gay couple discriminated against because of their sexuality by their wedding venue of choice has sparked an online debate, and now the owners of the wine estate in question could find themselves on the wrong end of the law. At issue is the right of a business owner to reserve admission, versus gay rights. In terms of the constitution, gay rights win. And the couple have been advised to fight their case in the Equality Court. Saturday Star featured the story of Emile Butler and Gareth O’Brien last weekend. They had planned to wed at Diemerskraal wine estate in Paarl but were turned down by owners Daan and Jeanette Morkel, who said they couldn’t “find it in our hearts” to allow a gay couple to get married on their property. Comments on IOL label the gay couple “drama queens” and advise them to “just accept it and move on,” but constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos warns that owners’ right to reserve admission is not an absolute right. The Equality Act in the Bill of Rights states clearly that “no person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds.” Those grounds include “race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.” According to Butler, he and O’Brien are choosing to ignore the negative comments online and focus on the positive. “They can say whatever they want, but I am standing up for what I truly believe in,” Butler said. “It’s my life, it’s my cause, and what they did is illegal.” The couple have also received plenty of support on Twitter, with many people expressing their disgust at the Morkels, and threatening to boycott Diemerskraal. The Human Rights Commission told Butler this week that the allegations had been sent to the Morkels. Daan Morkel acknowledged that he had been contacted by the commission, to which the couple directed a complaint last week. He said he and his wife had been advised not to discuss the issue further until it had been resolved. Butler and O’Brien will also wait for the outcome of their complaint, but say they will look at taking their complaint to the Equality Court.
In Italy, a junior Italian equal opportunities minister was removed from her post on Saturday less than 24 hours after being sworn in to the new coalition government, after she said gays invited discrimination by "ghettoizing" themselves. The abrupt departure of Michaela Biancofiore to another ministry was a fresh reminder of just how delicate Prime Minister Enrico Letta's fledgling left-right coalition is, reports Reuters. Gay rights groups protested on Friday after Biancofiore, a parliamentarian from former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom party (PDL), was made an undersecretary in the equal opportunities ministry. They accused her of having made comments they considered homophobic, a charge she denied. Responding to the criticism, she told Italian newspapers on Saturday: "For once, I would like to see gay associations, instead of 'ghettoizing' themselves ... say something to condemn the recent spate of killings of women (in Italy). All they do is defend their own interests". According to Italian media, her comments had upset Letta, particularly because he had appealed to members of his government just a day before to observe "sobriety" in their public comments and work as a team. Biancofiore, who says she is opposed to same sex marriage but supports "civil unions" to protect gay couples, was re-assigned to the civil service ministry. Letta's government is made up of his Democratic Party (PD), Berlusconi's PDL and centrists led by former prime minister Mario Monti, an uneasy alliance pitting old political enemies against each other.
E! News' Twitter and text message services were hacked on Saturday, with fake messages about Justin Bieber coming out as gay and other profanities littering the entertainment news service. The accounts were suspended by midday Saturday. The hacked account read: "Breaking! Exclusive: Justin Bieber to E!online 'I'm a gay' E! News Breaking: Justin Bieber arrested in Dubai due to false tweets with him coming out situation developing" A spokesperson for E! told The Wrap that, “Eonline's breaking news twitter and sms accounts were compromised today. We're working to have this resolved as quickly as possible and are fully investigating the incident. We apologize for any confusion that the erroneous news alerts may have caused.” Hackers have attacked one news organization after another in recent years, including the AP, NBC News and The Los Angeles Times.