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Backgrounder - Tribunal finds Falun Gong a protected creed under Ontario's Human Rights Code

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January 25, 2006

Expert evidence

Western scholars of religion would characterize Falun Gong as a new religious movement. The essence of Falun Gong is spiritual elevation. Falun Gong practitioners believe in the existence of gods and divine beings in the cosmos. Its leader, Li Hongzhi, has written a form of ‘scripture.‘ His message is profoundly moral.

Summary of Tribunal findings

The following is a summary of the Tribunal’s findings for Ms. Huang:

  1. Her practice of Falun Gong constitutes a creed within the meaning of the Code
  2. Her right to equal treatment with respect to services without discrimination based on creed was infringed by the Respondents, contrary to sections 1 and 9 of the Code.
  3. The Respondents are jointly and severally liable for these breaches.

Damages and public interest remedies ordered by the Tribunal

The Respondents are ordered to pay Daiming Huang the following amounts within thirty days of this Order:

  1. $10,000 as compensation for her loss of dignity resulting from the repeated infringement of her rights under sections 1 and 9 of the Code
  2. $8,000 as compensation for her mental anguish caused by the infringement of her rights
  3. pre-judgment interest on the awards, commencing on July 15, 2002 fixed at 2.5 percent per annum, and post-judgment interest on all of the above under the Courts of Justice Act, supra, fixed at 5 percent per annum, commencing thirty days from the date of this Order.

Moreover, the Respondents are ordered and directed to take the following actions to achieve compliance with the Code in respect of their current and future conduct and practices.

  1. Immediately revoke the exclusion of the Complainant and any other Falun Gong practitioners from their Association.
  2. Within three months of this decision, post Human Rights Code cards written in English and Mandarin in prominent places in their Association’s premises; any cost associated with the translation of these Code cards must be paid by the Respondents.
  3. Within three months of this decision, the Respondents must implement an antidiscrimination policy, that explicitly addresses religious animus, and provide a copy of this policy to the Commission within that timeframe.
  4. Within six months of this decision, the Respondents must amend their Association’s Constitution, to incorporate anti-discrimination provisions that specifically address religious animus, and provide a copy of it to the Commission within that timeframe.

The Tribunal will remain seized of this matter for a period of twelve months from the date of this Order, so that it may deal with any implementation issues that arise.