2 min

In brief

Vancouver and national news

AMERICAN WEDDING: US citizens Bill Woods and his longtime partner, Lance Bateman, spent Labour Day weekend in Vancouver this year, legally tying the knot. The couple is urging all US government agencies and employers to voluntarily recognize same-sex marriages. If that doesn't work, Woods says he'll launch his own court challenge. Credit: Wendy D


BC’s human rights tribunal made trans legal history in January 2002, when it ordered Vancouver Rape Relief to pay Kimberly Nixon $7,500 for injuring her dignity and discriminating against her as a transsexual woman. The decision ended seven years of legal battles for Nixon; or so she thought. Rape Relief appealed the decision to the BC Supreme Court six months later. The hearing took place two weeks ago. The case dates back to 1995, when Nixon tried to join Rape Relief’s crisis call team; the organization asked her to leave when it discovered she wasn’t raised as a girl. In its original decision, the tribunal ruled that it’s discriminatory to exclude trans women from women-only spaces just because they’re trans. Rape Relief maintains the exclusion was justifiable, since the group has a right to set its own membership criteria. In other words, since Rape Relief is a peer counselling service, it should have the power to decide who its peers are-and who counts as a woman. “No reasonable male to female transsexual would feel affronted by being excluded” from such a group, it told the court. Nixon’s lawyer, barbara findlay, says that argument is “mind-bending.” She says she’s confident that human rights law is on her client’s side. The court is expected to reach a decision sometime in the next few months.



It’s that time of decade again. Five years ago, a group of gay business people created the Davie Village Business Improvement Association (BIA) to clean the area up and promote it as a gay and lesbian destination. Now it’s time to re-ratify the deal. Every five years, the city asks its BIAs to go back to their merchant members and make sure they still have their support. It’s called the renewal period and the Davie BIA’s starts now. That’s why the BIA is holding a meeting Sep 17, to hear what direction people want the Village to take and where the BIA should go from here. BIA president Randy Atkinson is hoping for a good turn-out. It would be a huge loss to the gay community if the BIA loses its ratification, he says. Just look at the rainbow banners: the BIA put those up to mark the Village as a gay space almost three years ago. And that’s just the beginning. In the last year, the BIA has taken significant steps to promote the Village as a gay destination and to protect its unique character. That character came under fire recently, when the new owners of the Parkhill Hotel attempted to turn the hotel into an apartment building in the middle of Davie St’s gay entertainment strip. Atkinson, with a lot of help from counsellor Tim Stevenson, brought that move to a halt. The BIA plays an important role in maintaining the Davie Village as a village, Atkinson says. And, of course, the BIA also has an important role to play in tackling the area’s safety and gaybashing problems, he adds.

The Davie Village BIA will hold an open meeting Sep 17 at the Sands Hotel, 7 pm. Everyone with an interest in the Davie Village is encouraged to attend.