Tag Archives: substantive equality

Niqabs in court

An important case opened in the Ontario Court of Appeal today. The court will decide if a woman will be allowed to wear a niqab while she testifies against the men who allegedly sexually assaulted her.

The woman, called N.S. in court documents, has worn the niqab for many years and argues that the Charter protects her religious right to wear it.

The Criminal Lawyers’ Association, one of the intervenors in the case, argues that defendants have a right to face their accusers. They also argue that lawyers need to be able to see facial expressions of the witness they are cross-examining.

Another intervenor is the the Canadian Muslim Congress, who argues that the niqab is a cultural garment, rather than a religious one.

However, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), an intervenor on the other side, argues that requiring N.S. to remove her veil will further deter Muslim women from bringing forward sexual assault charges.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, also an intervenor on the woman’s behalf, says that women should not have to choose between their religion and justice.

The discussion around this case should not be around whether or not women should wear coverings. It is about accommodating religious practice and protecting survivors of sexual assault. Sexual assault is already extremely under-reported and under-prosecuted. A ruling that finds women must testify unveiled would mean Muslim women would be even less likely to come forward.

This LEAF media advisory explains it well:

The implication of this case for the stigmatized minority group of women who wear the niqab is significant. [LEAF counsel, Susan Chapman] explains: “If niqab-wearing women believe that they will be ordered to remove their niqabs if they seek the protection of the Canadian legal system, will they ever report sexual assault? The message will be that these women can be sexually assaulted with impunity. This is clearly unacceptable.”

“The complaint’s request for an Order that she not be forced to remove her niqab is not an assertion of “special rights” nor is it just based on freedom of religion” says [LEAF co-counsel and Legal Director Joanna Birenbaum]. “The constitutional rights which the complainant asserts are fundamental: the rights to liberty, to be free from state imposed psychological harm, to physical security, to a justice system that operates free of discrimination and prejudice.”

No matter what the ruling, this case will likely go to the Supreme Court.

Severely Queer presents Kenyon Farrow

Kenyon Farrow is coming to Edmonton!

How is growth and progress changing the face of Edmonton? How can you help ensure that we are ethically progressing?

In his talk Kenyon will explore how cities and areas get to be the way they are and how place and history affect people in their everyday lives. Looking at race, sex & the politics of gentrification in progressive and radical organizing, Kenyon will share his experience while looking at the politics of everyday life.

On May 14, from 7-9pm at the Jubilee Auditorium, Farrow will speak on WHOSE STREETS? Exploring Race, Sex & The Politics of Gentrification in Progressive and Radical Organizing.

Be there:
7pm-9pm, Friday May 14 2010
Jubilee Auditorium, Rehearsal Hall
(Enter Stage Door, South Entrance)
11455 87 Avenue
LRT stop: Jubilee/Health Sciences

By Donation

Onsite Child Care Available
Wheelchair / Some Reduced-Mobility Accessible
For accessibility questions email severelyqueer@gmail.com

On May 15 from 12-4pm he will facilitate a workshop called MAKING MOVEMENT: Organizing Strategies for Racial, Gender & Economic Justice.

Be there:
Noon- 4pm, Saturday May 15 2010
Transalta Arts Barns,10330 84 Ave

Pancake Brunch
Offsite Childcare Available
Wheelchair / Some Reduced-Mobility Accessible

To register for the workshop and for information about accessibility, email tkerr10@hotmail.com.

This event is sponsored by:
– Public Service Alliance of Canada
– Alberta Public Interest Research Group
– Alberta Federation of Labour
– Alberta Union of Public Employees
– HIV Edmonton

Women’s equality in Canada is regressing. Thanks, Harper!

Listen to the podcast

Saba hosted and we had lots of awesome stuff on the show today! Here are some quick links.

Jocelyn had news about a report recently released by women’s and labour groups which shows that women are losing ground when it comes to equality in Canada. You can find more information here, here, here, and here.

Laura brought us Radio Eve with Edmonton’s Ariane Mahryke Lemire, a singer-songwriter who performs in both French and English. She has just released a new CD, Décousue, out and you can catch her tomorrow night at Savoy!

Listen to the podcast

February 5th

Today on the show, our amazing new volunteer Sarah brings us an interview with Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada. They talked about Copenhagen, how climate change effects women and the need for proportional representation in Canada. You can also check out Terra Informa for more with Elizabeth May.

Laura brings us part of the panel presentation given by the Women’s Court of Canada at U of A last March. Gwen Brodsky, co-director of the Poverty and Human Rights Centre in Vancouver, spoke on the importance in understanding the difference between strict equality and substantive equality.

There were some technical difficulties last week, so this week you finally get to hear an interview from a Vancouver based radio show called Red Eye with Jane Kirby about convergence activism and the 2010 Olympics from Red Eye.

The Legislating Sexualities in Alberta panel held today at the U of A was fantastic. Gaywire recorded it and we’ll soon have a link up.

Have a great weekend and get your feminism on!

Legislating Sexualities in Alberta

Updated: Note the new location, FAB 220

The Political Science Graduate Association and the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta are presenting the panel Legislating Sexualities in Alberta.  It will be held from 12-2pm on Friday, February 5, 2010 in FAB 220, University of Alberta North Campus. More information can be found on the facebook page:

This panel will bring together a number of interested and informed actors to discuss the implications of the Alberta government’s actions and attitudes pertaining to sexual minorities. The motivations, repercussions and significance of the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act (AIRA), Bill 44, the de-listing of gender reassignment surgery, and eventual declaration of pride in Edmonton will be considered.


Lucas Crawford (English & Film Studies)
Dr. André P. Grace (Education)
Dr. Lois Harder (Political Science)
Dr. Cressida Heyes (Philosophy)
Rachel Notley (MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona)
Michael Phair (Education)

Laura has written a post for Blogosaurus Lex giving background information and asking questions on the issues this panel is discussing. From the post:

The de-listing of gender reassignment surgery (GRS, also known as Sexual Reassignment Surgery, SRS) for transgendered Albertans raises questions about who we deem worthy of medical treatment and how marginalized minority groups are treated in Alberta. It also raises questions about how people are defined under the law. Our society is heavily invested in the idea of a gender binary and our laws and bureaucratic processes reflect that. Transgendered people in Alberta, and in most places, must identify themselves as male or female on government documents (India legally recognizes the hijra as a third gender, but even this is problematic, in part because it groups all non-conforming gender expression in to an ‘other’ category). Not conforming with one’s legally designated gender can have many legal consequences (US websites) going beyond discrimination.

Check out Blogosaurus Lex to read the rest.