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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Tribunal Finds Ottawa Chinese Seniors Association Discriminated against Falun Gong Practitioner

Ottawa – The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (”Tribunal”) ruled in a decision released April 27, 2011 that the Ottawa Chinese Seniors Association (”Association”) discriminated when it terminated the membership of one of its members because she practices Falun Gong.

The case arises in the context of the Chinese regime’s international campaign against Falun Gong, with its Embassy and Consulates in Canada mobilizing the Chinese community to denounce and ostracize practitioners.

The respondent Ottawa Chinese Seniors Association, an Ontario registered organization, participated in denouncing Falun Gong and expulsion of members who practiced Falun Gong, including the complainant Ms. Daiming Huang, a 78-year-old Canadian citizen and subjected her to demeaning comments about her belief.

The Tribunal ruled after contested hearings that Falun Gong constitutes a creed, protected within the meaning of Ontario’s Human Rights Code, and that the Association breached the Code and discriminated Daiming Huang on the basis that she practised Falun Gong.

The Tribunal found that the discrimination was two-pronged: it involved both the revocation of Ms. Huang’s membership and insidious comments made publicly when Ms. Huang sought to discuss the Association’s decision.

The Tribunal ruled that the comments of the officers of the Ottawa Chinese Seniors Association referring to Falun Gong as an “evil cult” constitute discrimination within the meaning of the Code. The comment had the effect of demeaning Ms. Daiming Huang and affronting her dignity on the basis of her creed. The tribunal also found that the discrimination caused Ms. Daiming Huang to lose face within her community and that she is more vulnerable because she is part of a group that has been subjected to persecution.

The Tribunal ordered the Association to pay $15,000 in damages to Ms. Huang and to invite Ms. Huang back to the Association within 30 days of the order.

This newest ruling reaffirmed an earlier decision of the Tribunal in January 2006 based on a written hearing in which the Association chose not to participate. An application for judicial review of that decision was successful and the matter was remitted back to the Tribunal for hearing before a differently constituted panel which resulted in the current decision.

“This is not just a success for Daiming Huang, it is a victory in the world wide battle against the Communist Party’s oppression of Falun Gong,” said David Matas, legal counsel for Daiming Huang.

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