History in the making – Metro US

History in the making

A landmark legal victory for the rights of Alberta’s gay community 10 years ago should be a history lesson in every classroom in the province, says a man at the heart of the historic legal battle.
Delwin Vriend, who successfully fought the province all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to have sexual orientation recognized under Alberta’s human rights law, says the seven year legal battle should never be forgotten.
“There’s always something that has been forgotten in any community, and in any country, about the past,” said Vriend during a public forum at City Hall held to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the ruling yesterday.
“It’s kind of neat to hear that some never even heard about this case, but this case tells you a lot about how far we’ve come (as a community.)”
Kristopher Wells, a researcher for the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies, believes Vriend’s case needs to be a part of Alberta school curriculum because of its impact on human rights across the country.
“This is such a monumental part of Alberta’s history, along with the community reaction because of it” said Wells.
“Here we had a premier in Ralph Klein who convened a week of debate on this issue to see whether or not the Alberta government was going to use the notwithstanding clause to make the province the only one in Canada not to extend human rights protection.”
Talks are being planned with education leaders on including the decision as part of the curriculum, said Wells.
Vriend, who is now 42, began his fight with the province back in January 1992 after the Edmonton’s Christian-focused Kings College fired him because he admitted he was in a same-sex relationship.
After attempting to file a human rights complaint, Vriend’s case was denied by the Alberta Human Rights Commission since sexual orientation was not protected by provincial law, sparking the seven year legal battle.
Despite the ruling, however, the law has yet to be modernized by the Conservative-led government.
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