LGBTQ2S communities are well aware of how the legal system has been used both as a tool of repression and hatred, as well as an avenue for positive social change. This election, it is important that the rights and freedoms we have gotten through decades of struggle remain in place, and that parties commit to furthering LGBTQ2S equity within the justice system.


Human Rights Legislation

The Canadian Human Rights Act includes sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination when it comes to issues related to the federal government and federal areas of jurisdiction. Unlike the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Human Rights Act can be revised or repealed with a simple majority vote in the House of Commons.

Gender identity and expression were only added to the Act in 2017 (Bill C-16). These vital protections continue to be opposed by some who purposely spread mistruths about the intent and effect of these protections.

We call on all parties to:

  • Affirm their continued support of the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the protections it provides to LGBTQ2S communities, in particular, the recently added protections for trans and gender-diverse people.
  • Affirm that they will not remove the protections added by Bill C-16.

You can ask your local candidates:

  • If they support the addition of gender identity and gender expression to The Canadian Human Rights Act.
  • What steps they will take to ensure that these protections are realized - not just on paper - but in all areas that fall under federal jurisdiction.

Ending Unjust HIV Criminalization

People living with HIV continue to be unjustly criminalized by the Canadian criminal justice system. Nearly 200 individuals who “allegedly failed to disclose their HIV status have been charged with criminal offences in Canada,” often in cases where there has been “little to no possibility of HIV transmission.”

With legislation that does not reflect the increase in the scientific understanding of HIV transmission and treatment, people living with HIV continue to face the possibility of charges of aggravated sexual assault under the Criminal Code.

In December 2018, the Attorney General of Canada issued a binding directive stating that those...

  • with a supressed viral load, or
  • those without a supressed viral load but used a condom, or engaged only in oral sex, or were actively taking a prescribed treatment

...should generally not be prosecuted. It further said that HIV non-disclosure cases will not be prosecuted as sexual offences. However, this directive only applies to federal Crown Attorneys working in the Territories. HIV non-disclosure cases fall under the jurisdiction of provincial Attorneys General. Much more needs to be done to protect individuals living with HIV from unjust prosecution.

We call on all parties to:

  • Support the call to action of the Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization in order to limit the unjust use of the criminal law against people living with HIV by:
    • Having strong federal and provincial guidelines that prevent unjust HIV prosecutions, and “reflect current scientific knowledge and the principle of the least intrusive, most effective response.”
    • Reforming the Criminal Code to limit the unjust use of criminal law against people living with HIV, including removing “HIV non-disclosure from the reach of sexual assault laws, including the current mandatory designation as a sex offender” and by prohibiting “prosecutions for sexual assault where HIV non-disclosure takes place in the context of sex among otherwise consenting adults.”
    • Supporting the “development of resources and training to address misinformation, fear, and stigma related to HIV.”

You can ask your local candidates if:

  • They support reforming the Criminal Code to ensure the unjust prosecution of individuals living with HIV.
  • They will support increased funding for HIV care and public education to combat the myths of living with HIV.

Sex Work

Sex work is real work. The continued criminalization of sex work has a demonstrated negative effect on people who engage in sex work, leading to increased violence, discrimination, and harm. As the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform states, it leads to further isolation and reduces the ability of sex workers to engage in activities such as vetting clients, hiring security personnel, and engaging with police or social services when necessary.

Provisions in the Canadian Criminal Code continue to be applied, and misapplied, in ways that negatively impact the rights and safety of sex workers. Using the Alliance’s call to action as a starting point,

We call on all parties to:

  • Support the further study of amending the Criminal Code, including the removal of sex-work-specific provisions, with a goal to create a policy framework that supports the health, safety, and dignity of sex workers.
  • Work with their provincial and territorial counterparts to create a labour employment framework that addresses the needs of sex workers through an employment and health-and-safety standard lens.
  • Centre the voices and experiences of sex workers in any policy changes.

You can ask your local candidates:

  • If they support amending the Criminal Code to better support the health, safety, and dignity of sex workers.
  • Whether their party supports a harm reduction, people-centred approach to sex work policy.
  • How they will ensure the safety and harm removal of individuals engaged in sex work against their will while ensuring the right of others to engage in sex work.




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