La sexualité chez les personnes ayant une déficience intellectuelle

Dans son édition du samedi 22 mars, le journal La Presse consacre un dossier à la sexualité des personnes ayant une déficience intellectuelle. Plusieurs parents d’enfants ayant une telle déficience souhaient les soumettre à une stérilisation forcée. Dans les faits, certains médecins acceptent de conduire de telles opérations, autant chez les hommes que chez les femmes, alors que cela viole leur consentement. En effet, très peu des personnes en situation de handicap mental comprennent la portée d’une telle opération, ou ses conséquences futures. Read the rest of this entry »

SCC Unanimously Upholds Sexual Assault Conviction

A decision rendered March 7, 2014 from the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously upheld a sexual assault conviction of a Nova Scotia man, Craig Hutchinson.

The man attempted to trick his then-girlfriend into pregnancy by poking holes in the condoms they used during intercourse. In 2006, the accused poked holes in condoms using a pin, resulting in his girlfriend’s pregnancy and subsequent abortion. The woman was later treated with antibiotics having suffered a uterus infection.

Per R v Hutchinson, 2009 NSSC 51, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court originally found Hutchinson not guilty of aggravated sexual assault.

The Crown had to prove the “sexual activity in question” was not consented to, specifically unprotected intercourse, per Section 273.1(1) of the Criminal Code.

September 28, 2011, Hutchinson was found guilty by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and convicted of sexual assault. He was sentenced to 18 months on December 2, 2011 per R v Hutchinson, 2011 NSSC 462. Coughlan J of Halifax (para 25) writes:

Considering the case law and legislation, the circumstances of the offender and the offence, I sentence Mr. Hutchinson to incarceration for a period of eighteen months.

In a subsequent hearing at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal the appellant appealed both the conviction and eighteen month sentence. In R v Hutchinson, 2013 NSCA 1, MacDonald, CJ, writing for the majority, concluded:

The judge was correct to conclude that the “sexual activity in question” [as envisaged in s. 273.1(1) of the Criminal Code] was unprotected sex which the complainant did not consent to. With all other elements of the offence made out, the appeal against conviction should therefore be dismissed.The sentence was not demonstrably unfit, nor did it reflect an error in principle. Therefore, the appeal against sentence should also be dismissed.

However, Farrar J provided a dissenting opinion which gave grounds for the appellant’s appeal to the SCC:

The trial judge erred in finding there was no consent under s.273.1(1) of the Criminal Code. The proper approach would have been to determine whether consent was vitiated under s. 265(3)(c) by fraud. The appeal should be allowed and a new trial ordered.

In a unanimous 7-0 ruling, the SCC concluded in R v Hutchinson, 2014 SCC 19 that Mr. Hutchinson’s actions of poking holes in condoms vitiated his girlfriend’s consent. The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario were interveners.

McLachlin, CJ & Cromwell, J (para 71) write:

We conclude that where a complainant has chosen not to become pregnant, deceptions that deprive her of the benefit of that choice by making her pregnant, or exposing her to an increased risk of becoming pregnant by removing effective birth control, may constitute a sufficiently serious deprivation for the purposes of fraud vitiating consent under s. 265(3)(c).

Paragraph 70 of the judgment discusses a woman’s right not to become pregnant:

The concept of “harm” does not encompass only bodily harm in the traditional sense of that term; it includes at least the sorts of profound changes in a woman’s body — changes that may be welcomed or changes that a woman may choose not to accept — resulting from pregnancy. Depriving a woman of the choice whether to become pregnant or increasing the risk of pregnancy is equally serious as a “significant risk of serious bodily harm” within the meaning of Cuerrier, and therefore suffices to establish fraud vitiating consent under s. 265(3)(c).

Key Timelines and Jurisprudence

R v Hutchinson, 2009 NSSC 51

R v Hutchinson, 2011 NSSC 462

R v Hutchinson, 2013 NSCA 1

R v Hutchinson, 2014 SCC 19

Related Cases

R v Mabior, 2012 SCC 47, [2012] 2 SCR 584

R v Cuerrier, [1998] 2 SCR 371

Debate follows the raising of a rainbow flag outside Iqaluit City Hall

In the two weeks since the Olympics closed, heated discussion has followed the decision to raise a rainbow flag alongside the City of Iqaluit and Canadian flags outside Iqaluit City Hall. The flag went up in protest of the anti-gay propaganda legislation passed by Russia on February 10th. City Councillor Simon Nattaq complained that the decision to raise the flag was not brought before council.

In his member’s statement, Nattaq remarked that “People tell me it is not an Inuit custom to be gay.” He also claimed that the raising of the rainbow flag has had an impact on him. Nattaq has received support from Cathy Towtongie, the president of Nunavut Tunnagavik Inc., who commended him for speaking out against the decision to raise the flag.

Former Nunavut premier and current Iqaluit-Sinaa MLA Paul Okalik responded to the controversy by standing in solidarity with Nunavut’s LGBTQ community: “no one deserves that kind of treatment in our territory.”

Jeunesse, justice pénale et littératie

« Chaque enfant qu’on enseigne est un homme qu’on gagne.
Quatre-vingt-dix voleurs sur cent qui sont au bagne
Ne sont jamais allés à l’école une fois,
Et ne savent pas lire, et signent d’une croix.
C’est dans cette ombre-là qu’ils ont trouvé le crime.
L’ignorance est la nuit qui commence l’abîme.
Où rampe la raison, l’honnêteté périt. »

Extrait de : Écrit après la visite d’un bagne, Victor Hugo


La criminalité chez les jeunes connaît plus d’un facteur contribuant à son augmentation, notamment l’analphabétisme. Le mois dernier, l’organisme d’alphabétisation national,  « Collège Frontière», s’est penché sur le sujet dans le cadre d’une conférence intitulée « Jeunesse, justice pénale et littératie ». Read the rest of this entry »

ON: Equal pay for employees with disabilities

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal will no longer tolerate employers paying workers with developmental disabilities less than the statutory minimum. The tribunal awarded Terri-Lynn Garrie, a St. Catharines woman with an intellectual disability, 10 years worth of minimum wages.

Read the rest of this entry »

Discrimination Against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar Continue

Last week, Myanmar expelled Doctors Without Borders. The decision came after Doctors Without Borders treated Rohingya Muslims after an alleged massacre of Rohingya by Buddhists. The Myanmar government alleged that the NGO had favoured treating the Rohingya over local Buddhists. Doctors without Borders responded that its actions are “guided by medical ethics and the principles of neutrality and impartiality.” Myanmar has since allowed Doctors Without Borders to resume its work in other parts of Myanmar, but not the Rakhine state, where the communal violence between Buddhists and Rohingya is occurring.

The Rohingya are not recognized as citizens of Myanmar and are a stateless group. The United Nations has described the Rohingya as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Thailand recently announced that 1300 Rohingya were sent back to Myanmar last year, despite facing persecution. Human Rights Watch has also urged the Myanmar government to immediately and impartially investigate the killings that are a result of the communal violence. Fortify Rights released a report, “Policies of Persecution: Ending Abusive State Policies Against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar,” which details state policies of persecution, such as the two-child policy for Rohingya and restrictions on freedom of movement.



Ensemble, pour éviter la rue et en sortir

Ce jeudi 27 janvier, la Ministre déléguée aux services sociaux, Véronique Hivon, a déposé à Montréal la Politique nationale de lutte à l’itinérance. Cette dernière prévoit la construction de 500 logements sociaux tel qu’annoncé par le Ministre Marceau lors du dépôt du budget 2014-2105. Un budget de 46 millions, financé par le programme AccèsLogis, est alloué à la nouvelle politique intitulée «Ensemble, pour éviter la rue et en sortir». Les logements ainsi construits seront réservés à la population itinérante ou à risque de le devenir. Read the rest of this entry »

La nouvelle loi ougandaise contre les homosexuels dénoncée de toute part à l’ONU

L’Ouganda a adopté il y a 2 jours une nouvelle loi criminalisant encore plus l’homosexualité dans le pays. Cette loi, qui constitue une violation manifeste du droit d’être protégé contre toute forme de discrimination, a vite été condamnée par différentes instances onusiennes ainsi que par plusieurs gouvernements occidentaux.

Read the rest of this entry »

Qikiqtani Truth Commission Goes on the Road

Starting this Wednesday, twelve communities in the Qikiqtani region will get to hear the results of the Qikiqtani Truth Commission’s work. The Commission, run by James Igliorliote, traveled the Baffin area in 2008 to collect testimony on the history of government action that traumatized Inuit communities from the 1950s up until the 1970s.

The Commission was instigated after a twelve-year campaign by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association’s (QIA) agitation for an apology and for compensation from the federal government for the killing of Inuit dogs in the mid 20th century. Before it was launched, however, the Commission’s mandate was broadened to include a review of all government action that affected the Inuit between the years of 1950 to 1975.

While the final report was put out in 2010, in October 2013 the QIA released two more volumes of information. One details the experiences of specific communities and the other looks in depth at the federal government’s policies that caused the damage.

The presentations to communities in the region will take place from the 26th of February until March 13th. They will consist of DVD showings and discussions of an implementation plan for the next steps the QIA will take, now that the findings are in.

Office of the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner seeking public’s opinion on use of police background checks

British Columbia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is inviting the public to comment on the use of police information checks as a screening tool for those seeking employment or volunteer positions in the province. In an open letter to the public, Commissioner Denham writes;

“There is an increasing trend towards the use of police information checks as a screening tool for employers to assist in determining the suitability of a prospective employee or volunteer. While these individuals consent to the conduct of the check before it takes place, it is unlikely that an individual who refuses a check will still be considered for an employment or volunteer position. As a result, it is important that the process for background checks achieves the correct balance between an individual’s right to privacy and a desire for background information about an applicant.”

The use of police record checks has come under increased scrutiny in recent years, in response to a shift from the use of criminal record checks, which only include an individual’s criminal convictions, to the use of more expansive police information checks, which include not only convictions but also local police agency records. This includes information such as warrants for arrest, peace bonds, restraining orders, incidents of police contact, charges that did not lead to conviction, investigations where no charges were laid, information related to an individual’s mental health, and information under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Read the rest of this entry »

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