I was at a Meghan Murphy / Lee Lakeman event at my public library

I was there… I shouldn’t have needed to be.


TL;DR: I hold VPL, Meghan Murphy, and her website responsible for the event called “Gender Identity and Women’s Rights“. I feel that it violated the BC Human Rights Code under section 7.

I hope Vancouver Police will consider the entire event, communications before and afterwards, and the public response to these when considering whether a criminal charge of inciting hatred is warranted.

Morgane Oger

The talk sounded innocuous enough: “Gender Identity and Women’s Rights”. In reality, it was anything but.

Gender Identity and Women’s Rights – Meghan Murphy’s video (link disabled)

All five speakers represented degrees of the same narrow view that trans women are not women but men. They spent entire evening stating that transgender women should not be treated like other women because we are, in fact, men and should be treated as such – or at least not as women.

Thankfully, it takes a serious act to invoke limits on speech. Whether VPD feel that lakeman and Murphy’s statements are enough to recommend a charge to the Crown remains to be seen.

Offensive talks are allowed in Vancouver and this event did not result in a disturbance other than a protest rally beforehand and strong words at the event itself between individuals. It did however include in my highly subjective eyes a number of statements that may be considered to incite hatred against an identifiable group: transgender women.

Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada set out two offenses related to hate propaganda: inciting genocide and inciting hatred. Click here to read the original

This is the test under sections 319 (1)(a) and
319 (1)(b) and it is now up to the Vancouver Police Department to decide whether to recommend charge. At this stage it seems unlikely they will do so.

Section 320 of the Criminal Code of Canada deals with forfeiture and seizure of assets involved in inciting hatred. Click here to read the original

Persons interested in learning more about the last time a criminal conviction for inciting hatred was handed down in British Columbia will find a CBC article covering the Topham criminal case here and the relevant rulings here. 


Nov 2015: A jury in Quesnel, B.C. convicts Arthur Topham of communicating statements that wilfully promote hatred against Jewish people on his website in 2011 and 2012. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC)

In the BC civil code, publishing hatred falls under section 7 of the BC Human Rights Code.

Section 7 of the BC Human Rights Code is clear and has no exceptions applicable to a publicly-displayed publication. Click here for the original.

Because the Vancouver Public Library and the City of Vancouver knew the event was planned and had been warned of the content that was planned, I hold them responsible for knowingly taking part in Feminist Current and Meghan Murphy’s publishing an incitement to discriminate to the internet.

Kari Simpson attended, with Paul Dirks and Jenn Smith. Awful commentary is certain to follow.

Meghan Murphy’ speech was framed with a preamble offering her definition of terms for her talk. Murphy defined men as adult human biological males and women as adult human biological females.

It may be Murphy’s opinion that transgender women are men. We all agree it is anyone’s right to believe this. However in BC Trans women are women and it is a libellous statement to claim otherwise and a a human rights code violation to act on this belief.

The legal precedent in is clear.

Trans women have been recognized as women who are entitled to access spaces normally made available to women since the 1999 Sheridan, Mamela, and Ferris cases in BC.

These three cases found that :

  1. Discrimination against a Trans constitutes discrimination because of sex,
  2. A person must not, without a bona fide and reasonable justification, deny to a Trans person any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to women,
  3. A person must not, without a bona fide and reasonable justification, discriminate against a Trans person regarding any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to women,
  4.  Trans women can not be denied use of the spaces set aside for women.

Meghan Murphy did not go into detail about what biological females are in her eyes, so it is hard to tell exactly what her metric was for biological females. However in British Columbia and in Canada, Trans women are women whether Murphy agrees or not.

The only case to allow discrimination against a transgender woman since 1999 in British Columbia was Nixon v Rape Relief Society (BCHC 2000), overturned in favour of the Respondent on appeal on the basis of association within a membership-based organization (and not providing a service):

Section 41 of the Human Rights Code is intended, in my opinion, to give, in cases within it, the right not to associate.  Implicit, in my opinion, is that freedom of association includes freedom from association.”

Honourable Madam Justice Southin
in Vancouver Rape Relief Society v Nixon, 2005 (court of appeals)

Precedent is quite clear and long-established: A club an not be compelled to accept Trans women as members or volunteers but trangender women are women in BC.

Both Murphy and Lakeman did mention that growing up female was a prerequisite for them to recognize someone as female and that in their minds someone like me who transitioned as an adult is not female. Whether they accept that a girl who transitioned at age 4 lives her life as a female and grows into an female adult is difficult for me to clearly establish from this talk. Nonetheless, the law is clear. In Canada, since 1999, they are required to accommodate women who are transgender.

Because ethics rules make it extremely difficult to access transsexual bottom surgery as a child it is difficult to meet the also-cited criteria of “growing up with a vagina” that Murphy and Lakeman seem to uphold is the appropriate way to frame female in this conversation. This, once again is a violation of BC laws prohibiting discrimination in all cases except club membership.

Prelude

Before the event, there was a protest organized by people unhappy this event was taking place at our public library. A microphone and loudspeaker were provided, giving people the opportunity to speak their mind. I arrived there around 8:45 and was present for all but the first 15 minutes of the speakers. I was one of the last speakers and I express my outrage to this event was happening at all and my outrage that the Vancouver Public Library would never allow other hate-based events to happen in that space yet continuously allows transphobic speakers to speak transphobia in their spaces. As a descendant of victims of the Holocaust with family who was sent to Nazi death camps in Poland, I’m mindful of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in 2013 which included the affirmation that allowing hatred to be published lays the foundation for genocide, and this is why we have limits on Publications amplifying hatred in Canada. Advocates of unconstrained Free Speech disagree profoundly with this fact, but none the less it is the law in Canada and remains so until Canadians choose to make it otherwise. This is an extremely unlikely development

Approximately 100 protesters were unimpressed by this event

This event would not have amplified hatred via publication from British Columbia if it had not been live-streamed from the Vancouver Public Library.

…but it was.

Everything Megan Murphy said at her January 10 event was published on the internet on YouTube. this means that Murphy, the Vancouver Public Library, and the City of Vancouver will have to account for this because they all contributed to it.

The central thesis of the entire evening, if we take into account the preamble, is that whatever the reason may be that transgender women think we are women, even though people should pity us they do not owe people like me the protections from discrimination that we have finally achieved after decades of advocacy by feminist organizations and community groups across the country.

As a consequence, Lakeman & Murphy emphatically stated on repeated occasions that women’s spaces are not for transgender women because women’s spaces are not for men. This is a claim that transgender women are men who are lying to someone about who we are in order to access women’s spaces for implied nefarious reasons.

This claim is that either we are deluded and lying to ourselves (pathologization), or we are lying to others (demonization). It is also an assoiation with reviled persons: the men who are predators of women (villification).

Bill whatcott, who named Meghan Murphy as a witness in Oger v Whatcott, also thinks I am a man - and that he can do whatever he wants with his thoughts.
Bill whatcott, who named Meghan Murphy as a witness in Oger v Whatcott, also thinks I am a man – and that he can do whatever he wants with his thoughts.

In Oger v. whatcott, a complaint now before the BC Human rights Tribunal about the publication of similar discriminatory statements during my 2017 campaign in the BC general election, I take the position that it is not the individual sentence that matters but the entire publication together that makes up a publication of hatred. This is based on the Saskatchewan v. Whatcott 2013 Supreme Court decision which supports this but also relied on specific words that demonized and vilified people on the basis of their sexual orientation. Oger v Whatcott is waiting for a decision from the Tribunal, and that decision will inform any future decisions on publishing hatred in British Columbia.

The Canadian Legal Information Institute tracks the rulings in Oger v Whatcott. I am told it is fascinating reading for legal and policy wonks.

XXX,YYYY, Mary-Lee Bouma, Lee Lakeman, Meghan Murphy argue that women are men at the Vancouver Public Library
The box-standard trans-women-are-not-women ideologues (that time forgot)

Whatever the speakers at last night’s events believe, in British Columbia Services normally available to the public are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of the enumerated list of prohibited grounds for discrimination. Only a charity can ask to be exempt from that requirement, and only on the basis of the specific vulnerable class that the charity provide services to. In other words, a woman’s transition house cannot discriminate on the basis of race or place of origin or faith. In fact, it also is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. These are rules set out by Canada Revenue Agency as a prerequisite for qualifying for charity status which gives access to taxpayer provided public funds through tax credits.

Whatever Murphy and Lakeman might believe, there is no exception to that rule.

It was clear in the room that last night’s meeting was a call to action to get gender identity or expression removed from Human Rights protection in Canada. This makes sense as any other approach to fulfill their demands would require changing the protections for all the prohibited discrimination that are enumerated in our laws, and it seems unlikely anyone is misguided enough to try a dangerous stunt like that.

Based on the fact that this is what is being urged, last night’s event in context was an incitements to discriminate because it was a call to action to get Canadians to either advocate for discrimination or ignore the laws as they are written today.

On several occasions during my activities in human rights advocacy, I have noticed how critics of the protections brought in by bill C-16 would rebut my advocacy that our human rights law is our most important law by arguing that the death camps in Germany where the law too. They would propose that because death camps were wrong, Canada’s human rights law can be wrong too.

I think it is worthwhile noting here today that the only change to human rights law that happened when bill C-16 was enacted was the adding of gender identity or expression to an enumerated list of prohibitions, now encompassing 13 prohibited grounds of prohibition. Nothing else happened in our human rights law when Bill C 16 or its provincial equivalents were passed, extending explicit human rights protection to people like me on the basis of gender identity or expression.

Morgane Oger speaks at the BC Library Trustees Association annual conference
Apparently Vancouver Public Library need to listen to BC Library Trustee Aspirations more closely… My 2016 talk to Vancouver and other BC Library Trustees about curating their spaces was not heeded.

I hold Meghan Murphy’s Feminist Current, the Vancouver Public Library, and the City of Vancouver responsible for the fact that this hate propaganda has been published to the internet. This material is aimed at increasing discrimination against transgender people in Canada and continuing discrimination against transgender people worldwide, all the parties involved knew it was going to be published, and they knew it was being published for the intent of increasing discrimination against people on the basis of gender identity or expression in Canada and worldwide.

The only defense the Vancouver Library could possibly have allowing this publication is to demonstrate that they knowingly allowed other similar material to be published from their facilities. If they do that, they will at least demonstrate that they give incitememt to disceiminate an equal platform and that they are not responsible for specifically targeting transgender people.

I demand that the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Public Library publish a publicly accessible list of all the Publications they have participated in publishing targeting people on the basis of an explicitly prohibited discrimination.

I am grateful to the Vancouver Police Department and to the security teams who ensured that everyone in the room felt safe.

16 January 2019 update:

This posting is derived from a Facebook post which Meghan Murphy linked to in her post about her talk organized by her organization. as a result, the Facebook thread features over 1500 comments, many of them profoundly antagonistic to transgender people because of what is written here and in Meghan Murphy’s Feminist Current post linking to it.

References and links to relevant laws added.

17 January 2019 Update:

Visit Trans Rights BC to find information that is accurate, accessible, and relevant to the safety and well-being of trans and gender-diverse individuals and their supportive allies across British Columbia.


5 thoughts on “I was at a Meghan Murphy / Lee Lakeman event at my public library

  1. I don’t know where the idea comes from that you need “a disturbance” for Criminal Code convictions under s. 319, especially with a word as strong as “prerequisite.” That’s not what the statute says, and that’s not what case law has borne out.

    The s.319(1) offence, “public incitement of hatred,” DOES require that the incitement be “LIKELY to lead to a breach of the peace.” Maybe that’s where this idea comes from. That disturbance doesn’t actually have to materialize, particularly since under s.24 (1) of the Code you can be guilty of an attempt to commit the offence, whether or not the offence succeeds.

    Moreover, I think the more appropriate criminal charge in this case would be under s.319(2), “Wilful promotion of hatred,” rather than 319(1). Notwithstanding certain exceptions under subsection 3 that Ms. Murphy does not in good faith qualify for, it’s an offence with a much lower threshold, and no disturbance or likelihood of disturbance is required to make out the offence.

    Almost by definition, this is a hate crime. While the words “Hate crime” don’t technically appear in the Criminal Code, there are other analogous mechanisms in play. If the Crown proceeds with prosecution under s.319(2), which in my humble layperson’s opinion they should, the fact that this was an offence motivated by gender prejudice should certainly weigh into her sentencing as an aggravated factor under s.718.2(a)(i) of the Criminal Code.

    Let’s not be too quick to let her off the criminal hook here. I’m not a lawyer, and so the Crown may have reasons beyond my knowledge not to proceed against her criminally, but I certainly don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t, given the overwhelming public evidence giving rise to a reasonable prospect of conviction. I think it was very useful to cite your case, Oger v. Whatcott here, and also his Human Rights Tribunal business in Saskatchewan v Whatcott. But let’s not forget that old Bill is actively on criminal trial right now in the Ontario Superior Court under a s.318(2) charge. The results of which could have significant bearing on whether or not the same charge is appropriate to Murphy—and given the extent to which these two are exhibiting an ongoing pattern of hateful actions against which civil litigation seems to provide little deterrence, it may well be that proceeding criminally is not just a possible solution, but the best solution for everyone.

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    1. Thank you very much for your comments and the detailed explanation of your point of view.

      So far in British Columbia, the crown has been hesitant to Prosecute under 319 or 320 despite ample opportunity to try.

      For example, Oger v Whatcott was a Human Rights Tribunal complaint that in part because the crown declined to press charges on 319 or 320 or under the elections act.

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    2. No, I’m not a lawyer. I have however been involves in a number of major human rights tribunal cases and have advised complainants in a number of successful complaints in BC.

      I’m one of the human rights advocates that the Canadian Human Rights Commission calls on and allows to speal on the behalf of transgender inmates involved in federal human rights processes.

      I am proud of my human rights work in Canada. It is well-documented and speaks for itself.

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  2. Are there transphobic people on the VPL board? Who are their funders? City of Vancouver does appear complicit. How do other funders feel about this? The NDP Government? Thank you for going to such a painfully hateful event and staying till the end to speak.

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