Policy, Human Rights & Structural Change

Beyond Positive Intentions

This research report published by Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services in March 2021 investigates systemic discrimination and barriers that LGBTQ+ newcomer women and other trans and gender non-conforming newcomers in Toronto face at the societal level and within current programs/services. The study evidence suggests how sexual orientation, gender, race and immigration status are relevant predictors of well-being and those who are marginalized by these factors are at higher risk of health inequities. In addition to the full research report you can also access Research Summary  and  Animated Case Stories

 

OHRC Guidelines on Developing Human Rights Policies and Procedures

This is the Guidelines on Developing Human Rights Policies and Procedures published by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), last revised in 2008. This is a valuable capacity-building tool that organizations can use when writing, reviewing, and updating policy. 

http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/guidelines-developing-human-rights-policies-and-procedures 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Introduction

II. Organizational Responsibility for Preventing and Addressing Human Rights Issues

  • Why Develop Positive Practices? 
  • Legal Obligations 

III. Developing Organizational Policies, Programs and Procedures

IV. Barrier Prevention, Review and Removal

  • Barrier Review
  • Barrier Removal Plans

V. Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policies

  • Description and Rationale
  • Considerations
  • Elements

VI. Complaint Resolution Procedures

  • Description and Rationale
  • Considerations
  • Elements

VII. Accommodation Policy and Procedure

  • Description and Rationale
  • Considerations
  • Elements

VIII. Education and Training Programmes 

  • Description and Rationale
  • Considerations
  • Elements

OrgWise - OCASI Organizational Standards Initiative

This is an organizational self-assessment and capacity-building tool that looks at ALL parts of an organization: Community Based Approach (which includes Positive Spaces), Governance and Strategic Leadership, Operations, and Human Resources. Please visit www.OrgWise.ca 

Assess

OrgWise assesses the health of organizations and identifies areas for growth. It is confidential, easy to use and provides comprehensive reports, chart and work plan for Organizational development.

Develop

OrgWise Assessment helps to inform and prioritize organization capacity and professional development trainings for staff and organization leaders. It provides electronic resources such as sample policies, templates, webinars, videos and guides to increase your organizations’ effectiveness.

Standardize 

OrgWise Assessment benchmarks organizations against a set of voluntary Standards developed by and for the immigrant and refugees-serving sector. It also standardizes a framework for organizational accountability, sector priorities and capacity development training needs.

Learn More: 

OrgWise - Organizational Standards Self-Assessment Tool is an integrated and coordinated approach aimed at facilitating organizational capacity and infrastructure development in four main areas of the OrgWise voluntary Standards (A Community Based Approach, Governance and Strategic Leadership, Operations, and Human Resources). Developed with the unique needs of the immigrant and refugee-serving sector in mind, this tool aims to strengthen capacity and increased accountability at the Organization and sector levels. The OrgWise Standards and Indicators also serve as:

  • A means to effectively measure and gauge the health of organizations and an important risk management practice
  • A tool to identify organization strengths, celebrate successes, champion activities and address organizational development issues
  • An important benchmark for governing organizational management, accountability and development principles
  • An effective operational tool to integrate in organizational development and strategic planning e.g., upcoming funding proposals and reporting mechanisms
  • A resource to communicate organizational strengths and achievements with communities and stakeholders
  • A capacity development, knowledge and resource hub for organizations and their personnel 
  • A bridging tool for agencies to connect and share strategies with their peers and leading organizational development experts to build capacity

Completing your organizations’ assessment helps to inform sector priorities and trainings OCASI as the council offers to the immigrant and refugee-serving sector. 

Positive Space Assessment Tool

The Positive Space Assessment Tool is a free and anonymous online questionnaire designed by OCASI in 2013-2014 to benchmark organizational standards for serving LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, etc.) newcomers. It can be used by organizations to: 

  • Understand clearly what a Positive Space is, involves, and looks like in both theory and practice
  • Assess how positive their space really is for LGBTQ+ newcomers and staff, including compliance with Ontario Human Rights Code laws and best practices in settlement services 
  • Identify key strengths and target areas for improvement
  • Connect to necessary resources that are tailored based on need
  • Stimulate internal dialogue, and use assessment results as a catalyst to:
    • Access training
    • Create or revise policies
    • Consult with stakeholders
    • Pilot new initiatives, programs, partnerships, etc. 
  • Evaluate effectiveness of change initiatives and monitor progress over time
    • This can be done by re-taking the Assessment Tool at a later date and comparing with previous results. 

We would like to thank the OCASI Positive Spaces Initiative Advisory Committee who graciously gave their time, energy, wisdom, and encouragement in the development of this tool. Your knowledge, experience, and generosity are what made this possible. 

OHRC Policy on Preventing Discrimination Because of Gender Identity and Gender Expression

OHRC Policy on Preventing Discrimination Because of Gender Identity and Gender Expression

by the Ontario Human Rights Commission

Approved by the OHRC: January 31, 2014 
Official release date: April 14, 2014
Available in accessible formats on request

Contents 

Summary ..................................................................................................... 3 

1. Introduction ............................................................................................ 5 

2. About this policy .................................................................................... 6 

3. Gender identity and gender expression .............................................. 7 

4. Bias and prejudice ................................................................................. 8

4.1 Stereotyping........................................................................................................... 8

4.2 Transphobia ........................................................................................................... 9

4.3 Cisnormativity ........................................................................................................ 9 

5. Emerging human rights protections .................................................. 10

5.1 Ontario ................................................................................................................. 10

5.2 Other Canadian jurisdictions ................................................................................ 11

5.3 International standards ........................................................................................ 11 

6. Ontario’s Human Rights Code ............................................................ 12

6.1 Protections ........................................................................................................... 12

6.2 Establishing discrimination .................................................................................. 13

6.3 Right to self-identify gender ................................................................................. 14 

7. Forms of discrimination ...................................................................... 14

7.1 Direct, indirect and subtle discrimination ............................................................. 14

7.2 Intersecting grounds ............................................................................................ 15

7.3 Association .......................................................................................................... 16

7.4 Gender-based harassment and sexual harassment ............................................ 17

7.5 Poisoned environment ......................................................................................... 21

7.6 Systemic discrimination ....................................................................................... 22 

8. The duty to accommodate ................................................................... 23

8.1 Procedural and substantive duties ....................................................................... 24

8.2 Principles ............................................................................................................. 24

8.2.1 Respect for dignity ........................................................................................ 24

8.2.2 Individualization ............................................................................................. 25

8.2.3 Integration and full participation .................................................................... 25

8.2.4 Inclusive design ............................................................................................. 25

8.2.5 Appropriate accommodation ......................................................................... 26

8.3 Roles and responsibilities .................................................................................... 27 

9. Reasonable bona fide requirements .................................................. 27 

10. Other limits on the duty to accommodate ....................................... 29

10.1 Failing to participate in the accommodation process ......................................... 29

10.2 Balancing competing rights ................................................................................ 29

10.3 Undue hardship ................................................................................................. 30

11. Complaints and reprisal .................................................................... 32 

12. Corporate liability .............................................................................. 32 

13. Preventing and responding to discrimination ................................. 33

13.1 Organizational reviews, policies and education ................................................. 33

13.2 Transitioning ...................................................................................................... 34

13.3 Identity documents ............................................................................................. 35

13.3.1 Barriers ........................................................................................................ 35

13.3.2 Changing a name or sex designation .......................................................... 36

13.3.3 Recognizing lived gender identity ................................................................ 37

13.4 Washrooms and change rooms ......................................................................... 38

13.4.1 Access based on lived gender identity ........................................................ 38

13.4.2 Accommodation and inclusive design ......................................................... 39

13.5 Dress codes ....................................................................................................... 41

13.6 Shelter services ................................................................................................. 41

13.7 Health care services .......................................................................................... 43

13.8 Education system .............................................................................................. 45

13.9 Law enforcement and justice services ............................................................... 47

13.9.1 Strip searches ............................................................................................. 47

13.9.2 Correctional institutions ............................................................................... 48

13.10 Other services .................................................................................................. 49

13.11 Housing ........................................................................................................... 49

13.12 Employment ..................................................................................................... 50

13.12.1 Hiring ......................................................................................................... 51

13.12.2 Transitioning employees ........................................................................... 51

13.13 Vocational associations ................................................................................... 52 

Appendix A: Purpose of OHRC policies ................................................ 53 

Appendix B: Glossary for understanding gender identity 

 and expression ...................................................................................... 54 

Appendix C: Best practices checklist .................................................... 58

OHRC Policy on Discrimination and Harassment Because of Sexual Orientation

Policy on Discrimination and Harassment Because of Sexual Orientation by the Ontario Human Rights Commission 

Approved 2000. Revised 2006. Minor revisions 2009. 

 

Contents

Purpose of OHRC Policies....................................................................................2

The context: sexual orientation, human rights protections, case law and 

legislation..............................................................................................................3

Introduction ...........................................................................................................3

Sexual orientation .................................................................................................3

Homophobia and heterosexism ............................................................................4

A further word about terminology..........................................................................4

The purpose and scope of the policy ....................................................................5

International protections........................................................................................5

The Canadian context...........................................................................................6

Sexual orientation in provincial and federal human rights protections ..............6

Recognition of same-sex relationships .............................................................7

A note on balancing rights ................................................................................8

The policy framework............................................................................................9

Discrimination based on sexual orientation...........................................................9

Forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation ..........................................10

Harassment ....................................................................................................11

Poisoned environment....................................................................................12

Confidentiality and sexual orientation .............................................................12

Systemic discrimination ..................................................................................14

Organizational culture.....................................................................................14

Policies, procedures and rules........................................................................15

Reasonable and bona fide requirements........................................................16

Discrimination because of association............................................................17

Discrimination because of perceived sexual orientation .................................17

Comments or conduct need not be explicit.....................................................18

Relationships between sexual orientation and other Code grounds ..................18

Sex .................................................................................................................19

Marital status and family status ......................................................................19

Intersectionality and overlapping grounds ......................................................20

Organizational responsibility ...............................................................................21

Vicarious liability .............................................................................................22

The "organic theory" of corporate responsibility .............................................23

Employment, services, and housing ...................................................................23

Employment....................................................................................................24

Services..........................................................................................................25

Accommodation (housing) ..............................................................................26

Preventing and responding to homophobia and discrimination based on sexual 

orientation ...........................................................................................................27

Protecting confidentiality of information ..........................................................27

Barrier review and removal.............................................................................27

Anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies............................................29

Developing anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies .........................29

Promoting anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies...........................30

For more information...........................................................................................31

Report 1: Global Impact of COVID-19 on LGBTI Communities

The Equal Rights Coalition (ERC) is a coalition of 42 Member States, co-chaired by the governments of the United Kingdom and Argentina and works with over 120 LGBTQ+ civil society organizations. This report addresses critical issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community amidst COVID-19. These issues are broadly categorized into three themes: healthcare, economic well-being, and social issues. Each of these three complex themes are explored, providing literature, reports, and research to reflect on. The report concludes with 12 recommendations for policy makers and practitioners which address a range of issues including economic empowerment, healthcare, refugee and immigration policy, education, and emergency strategies among others. 

 

The Impact of Covid-19 on Displaced LGBTQI Persons: A Report with Four Recommendations for Policy Makers

This report offers a snapshot of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on displaced LGBTQI+ individuals seeking resettlement, due to the closure of borders, pausing of resettlement acceptances, and travel between countries. It includes an analysis of current literature on COVID-19 responses, as well as interviews with human rights workers representing civil society organizations working at the frontline of the COVID-19 response. The report concludes with four policy recommendations including: 1) Uphold the right to asylum during COVID-19, 2) Resume the resettlement of LGBTQI refugees, 3) Release LGBTQI asylum seekers being held in detention centres, and  4) Increase resources dedicated to supporting LGBTQI refugees.