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In Brief

Local and National news

SCHOOL DAZE. Azmi Jubran. Credit: Jacques Gaudet

Jubran case appealed
The North Vancouver school board wants to appeal April’s BC Court of Appeal ruling in the Azmi Jubran case to the Supreme Court of Canada. Jubran filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal in 1996 while he was a grade 10 student at Handsworth Secondary School. The complaint alleged Jubran’s classmates taunted and bullied him all through high school with homophobic epithets. In 2002, the BC Human Rights Tribunal awarded Jubran $4,500 in damages. That ruling was overturned in 2003 and then overturned again, back in Jubran’s favour, earlier this year.

“I’m not surprised that they’re appealing,” Jubran says of the school board’s latest decision to appeal. “They seem to be fighting it tooth and nail. They should have just done something about the harassment at the time.”

Jubran suspects the North Vancouver school board is fighting his case to the bitter end because of liability issues. If the board admits culpability in his case, it could be liable for an avalanche of claims from people who endured harassment at the hands of schoolyard bullies, Jubran says. “My case is a landmark.”

Ken Neale, Safe and Caring Schools Coordinator for the North Vancouver school district, concurs. “The insurer for all school districts has made the decision [to pursue the case to the Supreme Court] because of limits on liability,” he says.

Once the school board files its appeal, it will be up to the Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear the case.

LGV not ‘the new AIDS’
Some reports circulated Jun 1 in the mainstream press compared recent cases of the STD lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) in Canada to the emergence of HIV/AIDS 25 years ago.

The news reports came on the heels of a clinical report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal May 31 that is intended only to make physicians aware of LGV and its treatment protocols.

LGV is not a new disease. It is a bacterial infection. It is almost never lethal if treated and in most cases it can be easily and permanently cleared up with a three-week course of antibiotics. LGV can cause open sores on the body which can make HIV transmission more likely, but LGV itself is nothing like HIV/AIDS.

In the Jun 2005 issue of the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Dr Julius Schachter of the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the University of California writes: “LGV has likely been here for many years, and the new efforts to find this infection will undoubtedly succeed, but to attribute the suddenly found infections to a newly introduced organism is just wrong.”

Since 2003 when an LGV outbreak was noticed among gay men in the Netherlands, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has recorded one probable case and one confirmed case of LGV in BC. On Jun 1, BCCDC reported no additional cases. A total of 22 cases of LGV have been recorded in Canada.

LGV is an uncommon form of chlamydia. It can be tricky to diagnose because it requires specialized testing to distinguish it from other more ubiquitous strains of chlamydia and because patients may have other concurrent STDs that complicate diagnosis.

Symptoms may include pain in the ass, constipation, rectal inflammation and swollen lymph glands in the crotch. LGV can lead to permanent tissue damage if left untreated, but again can usually be cleared up easily with a course of antibiotics.

The chances of LGV transmission can be reduced by avoiding unprotected sex.

If you suspect you’ve come in contact with LGV, or you have symptoms, see your doctor and ask her to rule it out.

C-38 may soon be law
The federal government assured Liberal MPs in their weekly caucus meeting Jun 1 that Bill C-38, the same-sex marriage bill, will get royal assent before the government adjourns for the summer.

With the passage of the Liberal budget and survival of the minority government, the only obstacle to C-38 seemed to be that the committee examining the bill might not finish its work before the next election, likely in late 2005 or early 2006. Conservative MP Vic Toews forced the committee to agree to hearing an additional 22 witnesses May 30 in the hopes of delaying the bill long enough to kill it. But the government’s assurance Jun 1 that the bill will pass seems to indicate that the Liberals will keep Parliament in session this summer long enough to ensure C-38 gets through.

The only remaining chance for social conservatives to stop the bill is that the government could still be defeated before the bill is passed. It’s unlikely the government will fall on C-38 itself, as a clear majority of MPs are expected to vote in favour of it-despite ongoing opposition within the Liberal party and MP Pat O’Brien’s recent defection. O’Brien left the Liberal caucus Jun 6 to sit as an independent because he objects to C-38. O’Brien has gone so far as to threaten to vote against the Liberal budget’s next reading in an effort to bring down the government, trigger an election and kill C-38. As Xtra West goes to press it remains unclear whether there might be enough opposition votes to defeat the government.