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4 Nations Protect Lesbians & Gays Constitutionally

Fiji, South Africa, Canada & Ecuador
Now Ban Bias

By Rex Wockner
International News Report

stopdiscrm.gif - 10.78 K A report in this column that Fiji and South Africa are the only nations that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation via their constitutions unearthed the news that, in fact, Canada and Ecuador also protect gays constitutionally.

Ecuador's new constitution took effect last August. Chapter 2, Article 23, Number 3 states: "Equality before the law: All persons will be considered equal and will possess the same rights, freedoms and opportunities without discrimination by reason of birth, age, sex, ethnicity, social origin, language, religion, political affiliation, economic position, sexual orientation, health status, disability, or difference of any other type."

The information was provided by Albis Cruz of FEDAEPS, the Ecuadoran Action and Education Foundation for Health Promotion.

In Canada, a Supreme Court ruling created the doctrine of "analogous categories" and then "read in" sexual-orientation protections to Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is an annex to the 1982 Constitution Act.

The section states: "Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."

The court "read in" "sexual orientation" without physically rewriting the list, said Ken Popert, president of Pink Triangle Press which publishes the gay newspapers Xtra!, Capital Xtra!, and Xtra! West.

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Popert added: "Please note that this section protects only against discrimination by the state. However, the courts have applied it to provincial and territorial human rights laws, which in turn constrain all legal persons, including businesses."

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