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Youth
 
Ontario Expands Protection to Include Jeers, Jokes
 
ONLINE:  SATURDAY FEBRUARY 26, 12:01 PM EST (GMT-5).
THE Ontario Human Rights Commission announced yesterday a new sexual orientation policy which includes in the definition of harassment jokes that demean gays and lesbians.

The Commission, which administrates and enforces the Ontario Human Rights Code, explicitly defined in a policy paper released yesterday the way gays and lesbians can be unlawfully harassed, reported CNews.

"Despite the addition of sexual orientation as a protected ground in the Code, discrimination and prejudice against gays and lesbians continue to be serious social issues," a commission news release was reported as saying.

Homophobic epithets, comments ridiculing individuals because of their sexual orientation or same-sex partnership status, or singling out an individual for humiliating or demeaning 'teasing' or jokes are now considered forms of harassment.  Signage or other posted material containing similar content would also run contrary to the Code.

The protection includes same sex relationships and requires individuals in such relationships to be granted the same employee health benefits as their opposite sex relationship counterparts.

The new policy complements existing protection in the Ontario Code against discrimination in areas including employment and housing.