LGBT Legal Resource Round-Up

According to a Statistics Canada’s 2021 report, there are approximately one million people in Canada who belong to the LGBT community, a growing number reflected in changes in the law since the new millennium. Same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada in 2005. The BC Human Rights Code was amended in 2016 to add gender identity and expression as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Code, followed by similar protections in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code in 2017.  

Even still, it can be difficult for LGBT individuals to navigate the legal system and defend their rights and the right to express themselves. We’ve put together this resource round-up to bring together a number of resources that your LGBT patrons may find helpful. We’ve also included a number of resources helpful to those looking to change their name and gender marker on provincial and federal ID and records. 

 

Getting Started:  

Clicklaw is always a good place to check for legal information. There is a specific filter to find resources relevant to the LGBT community, as well as the following Common Questions: 

JusticeTrans provides legal information to trans people across Canada, including a page for BC specific legal info and resources and referral options in BC. 

QMUNITY is a non-profit organization based in Vancouver that works to improve the lives of LGBT people around the province. They have a referrals page for those looking for more help or support. 

 

Changing Names and Gender Markers in BC: 

For many trans people, the information on their legal documents such as birth certificates, passports, and driver’s licenses don’t match their lived identities. Many choose to change their documents to reflect their gender (people can choose M, F, or X, both in BC and federally) and name and may be looking for resources on how to do so. The resources below should give you some guidance:

If your patron is looking for help completing their legal forms to change their name or gender marker, you can refer them to AC Friends of Court, a program that provides free help with legal forms.

 

Human Rights: 

The BC Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on many different grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The BC Government has put together some fact sheets, available in multiple languages, to help BC residents understand human rights in BC. You can find the fact sheets, including the ones discussing human rights related to sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, online: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/human-rights/human-rights-protection  

The Human Rights Tribunal is responsible for dealing with complaints made under the Human Rights Code. To find out more about the Tribunal, including how to file a complaint, check out their website: http://www.bchrt.bc.ca/  

For those who have filed a complaint with the Tribunal and need legal help, they can get in touch with the BC Human Rights Clinic at CLAS. This Clinic can provide legal services including summary advice, 1-2 hours of legal assistance, or legal representation.  

The LSLAP Manual, which has been recently revised, has a chapter on Human Rights, which includes information on prohibited grounds of discrimination, such as sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

Trans Rights BC is a project that aims to disseminate human rights information that is accurate, accessible, and relevant to the safety and well-being of trans and gender-diverse individuals and their allies in BC. They have a variety of pages on different legal topics that help trans people know their rights in BC, including pages on housing, education, and public spaces. https://www.transrightsbc.ca/know-your-rights/ 

 

Family Law:  

JP Boyd on Family Law includes a chapter on Specific Communities and Family Law which includes sections for Aboriginal families, newcomers, and the LGBT community. 

Family Law in BC from Legal Aid BC is a great source of reliable family law information in BC. They cover many relevant topics such as Adoption and Getting a Divorce, as well as pages specifically geared toward the LGBT members of the public including Getting a divorce if your home country doesn’t recognize your same-sex marriage.

 

Print resources:

LGBTQ2+ law: practice issues and analysis: This book covers a wide variety of legal and LGBT topics, including human rights, family law, criminal law, children and youth, trans competency, and more. This title is available at our regional branches around the province.  

Legal Aid BC publications: Legal Aid BC produces a number of plain language legal information publications. Many of these publications are available both online and in print as short booklets, making these good resources for those more comfortable with print. To order print copies of Legal Aid publications, head over to Crown Publications or to your local Legal Aid location. Print copies are free! 

A full list of Legal Aid BC publications are available on their website - https://lss.bc.ca/publications  

They also have some tips on their website for ordering print copies through Crown Publications - https://lss.bc.ca/publications/ordering 

 

As always, feel free to get in touch with any questions at lawmatters@courthouselibrary.ca