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December 10, 2013

The following is being distributed at the request of the Human Rights Commission:

Human Rights Commission Recognizes and Celebrates Human Rights Day

The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission is recognizing and celebrating Human Rights Day today (Tuesday, December 10). Each year, Human Rights Day is celebrated internationally on the anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948.

The Declaration provides a set of common principles on political, civil, cultural, social, and economic rights that individuals, societies, and nations around the world can use as an example and strive to uphold. While it is not a binding document, in the 65 years since its adoption, the Declaration has inspired many nations and governments, including both Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador, to enact laws that ensure human rights will be recognized and upheld.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Act, 2010 recognizes that every individual is free and equal in dignity and rights. It is public policy in this province to provide for equal rights and opportunities to every person without discrimination that is contrary to law. Individuals in the province are protected from discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, social origin, religious creed, religion, age, disability, disfigurement, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity and gender expression), sexual orientation, marital status, family status, source of income and political opinion.

In November 2013 an amendment to the Human Rights Act, 2010 was introduced to explicitly prohibit discrimination and/or harassment based on gender identity and gender expression. The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission commends the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for becoming only the sixth jurisdiction in Canada to include such language in its human rights legislation: “We have supported the inclusion of gender identity and expression into the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination for a number of years, and are very pleased to see this welcome change in our legislation, ensuring that our trans-gendered residents have their rights explicitly protected under the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Act. This change further strengthens our commitment in the act, visibly recognizing that all residents in our province, regardless of the listed differences, are free and equal in dignity and rights,” said Remzi Cej, Chair of the Commission.

“In the past, the commission has accepted complaints on the basis of gender identity and expression, by reading those grounds in the prohibited ground of sex. We also developed guidelines for employers and service providers to consider and inform themselves on the trans community, on the duty to accommodate, and other related matters. The commission will be updating these guidelines in the near future, so as to reflect the positive changes emanating from the amendment of the act.”

The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission joins with others in Newfoundland and Labrador who are celebrating Human Rights Day 2013. The commission calls on individuals and organizations in this province to reflect on the importance of promoting equality, understanding, and mutual respect for all members of our community. It is our collective responsibility to protect and preserve these rights in our society and for future generations.

For more information on the Human Rights Commission, please visit www.thinkhumanrights.ca External Link

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Media contact:
Carey Majid
Executive Director
Human Rights Commission

2013 12 10                                        10:25 a.m.

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