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General Legislation Definitions

Human Rights, Discrimination & Harassment

Everyone is entitled to equity, dignity, respect, and freedom from discrimination. These are rights protected by laws. Although these are human rights, we live in an imperfect world where not all of society abides by these principles. Violations of human rights can occur anytime, and often when we least expect it. This is why it is important to have an act that protects individuals from these violations. 

Below is a video describing human rights in B.C. in ASL. The content is also available in this fact sheet: Human Rights – What You need to Know

What is a human right?

  • As defined by the United Nations (2016), human rights are “rights inherent to all human beings… that are often expressed and guaranteed by law” as to prevent discrimination. [Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)]

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states in section 15: Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to 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.

Below is a video describing human rights and discrimination in B.C. in ASL. The content is also available in this fact sheet: Human Rights – Discrimination Against People with Physical or Mental Disabilities

Discrimination occurs when an individual is singled out and treated adversely or differently than others for any of the grounds listed above (i.e. race, colour, sexual orientation, religion, etc.) (The BC Human Rights Clinic, 2015).

  • Three factors that constitute legal discrimination include: adverse, differential treatment, a causal relationship between differential treatment and a right protected by legislation, and that the discrimination occurred in public employment, public services, tenancy or property purchase.
  • In British Columbia, discrimination does not require an intent to contravene the BC Human Rights Code.
  • For more information about discrimination that is presented in a simple way please visit: http://www.bchrc.net/overview_of_human_rights_law#discrim

Harassment is a form of discrimination. It includes any unwanted physical or verbal behaviour that offends or humiliates you. Generally, harassment is a behaviour that persists over time. Serious one-time incidents can also sometimes be considered harassment (Canadian Human Rights Commission, 2013).

Examples of harassment include: comments or jokes about any of the human right grounds stated above, threats or forms of intimidation, and unwelcome physical contact.