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Rights on hold: Pioneer

Despite winning a major victory for rights of those in Alberta’s gaycommunity 10 years ago, Delwin Vriend says the province’s is stilldragging its heels on rights protections.<br />Vriend, 42, successfully fought the province all the way to the SupremeCourt of Canada to have sexual orientation recognized under theAlberta’s human rights law, but it has yet to be modernized by the Torygovernment.


Despite winning a major victory for rights of those in Alberta’s gay community 10 years ago, Delwin Vriend says the province’s is still dragging its heels on rights protections.
Vriend, 42, successfully fought the province all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to have sexual orientation recognized under the Alberta’s human rights law, but it has yet to be modernized by the Tory government.
“Ten years later, I see a government that’s still acting childishly by not including sexual orientation in the Human Rights Act,” said Vriend yesterday on the anniversary of the landmark ruling.
“I am almost tempted to talk to the government in a childish manner so they would understand ... Hopefully the government grows up and acts in a more mature manner.”
The province’s Human Rights Commission has handled close to 200 human rights cases involving sexual orientation since the ruling, but the province’s human rights law has never been changed.
Alberta Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett said yesterday the province is close to starting a review of the province’s human rights commission, along with the human rights act.
The review, however, will take months, said Blackett.
“We would love to make sure that our human rights commission is reflective of as many Albertans as possible,” said Blackett. “We are firmly in the belief that no Albertan should be discriminated against.”
Vriend began his fight with the province back in January 1992 after the Edmonton-based; Christian-focused Kings College fired him after 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 six-year legal battle.
“I really don’t feel like a hero, I was just a face in this case,” said Vriend, who now lives in Paris.
-jeff.cummings@metronews.ca

 
 
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