Human Rights Law Doesn’t Apply|to Comedians, Stand-Up Comic Says

VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – Nearly 3 years after failing to quash a human rights complaint against him, comedian Guy Earle is back in B.C. Supreme Court, trying to have a section of the province’s Human Rights Code thrown out as an “unjustified infringement of the right to freedom of expression guaranteed to all Canadians.”

     Earle was thrust into the spotlight in the spring of 2007 when a comedy performance at a small East Vancouver restaurant went awry as hecklers berated him.
     Lorna Pardy – a respondent in Earle’s new case – filed a human rights complaint against Earle, the restaurant and its owner Salam Ismael after Earle shouted down the hecklers with sexist and homophobic comments.
     Pardy was awarded more than $20,000.
     Earle seeks judicial review of the award, and a declaration that Section 8 of the B.C. Human Rights Code “was never intended to apply, and does not apply, to the content of entertainment and the arts, such as the stand-up comedy performance in the case at issue.”
     Earle claims in his petition that the Human Rights Tribunal was procedurally unfair and systemically biased against him when it required that he attend hearings in person when it knew he lived in Ontario and had just had a child with his partner.
     “Further, there was, and is, systemic bias in that taxpayer funded counsel was, and is, available to the complainant, Lorna Pardy, whereas no such provision was, or is, available for respondents, such as Mr. Earle,” the petition states. “The Tribunal incorrectly decided that it had jurisdiction over the content of entertainment pursuant to s. 8 of the Code, and that the purpose of s. 8 of the Code was to restrict the expression of artists and entertainers.”
     Section 8 of the code states: “A person must not, without a bona fide and reasonable justification, (a) deny to a person or class of persons any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public, or (b) discriminate against a person or class of persons regarding any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public because of the race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation or age of that person or class of persons.
     Earle is represented by James W. Millar.
     He sued Pardy, Ismael, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, and Zesty Food Services.

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