The first time Victor Ryan became acutely aware of the need to legally protect minorities, he was 14 years old and had just come out.
“I definitely remember being in high school and thinking, ‘There really have to be strong laws and protections for the little guys,’” he says. “Being on the outside — socially — of anything is a good perspective for figuring out how the majority and the minority work together.”
Ryan’s passion for minority rights initially led him to study journalism in Ottawa. But after finishing that degree, he realized being a lawyer could allow him to more directly protect people’s rights.
In 2015, he received his law degree from the University of British Columbia. He also received a LOUD scholarship from BC’s lesbian and gay business association, which supports future LGBT community leaders.
He received the award in part because of his work as co-chair of Out Laws, the queer student association of UBC’s law school. He was also the president of Legal Education Outreach, a UBC program in which law students visit schools with historically underrepresented populations to discuss the practical elements of getting into law school and becoming lawyers.
“Historically the LGBT community has been on the blunt receiving end of the justice system,” he says, “and so to have people of that community working within the justice system to make sure that our voices are heard . . . is super important.”
Ryan points to the ongoing legal battles around Trinity Western University’s proposed Christian law school in Langley, BC. “The queer lawyers in BC now who have been speaking out — whatever positions they take — having their voices at the table has been invaluable to the process of deciding what to do,” he says.
Ryan is now articling in the office of BC’s attorney general in the last phase of his legal education before becoming a lawyer, likely in the summer of 2016.
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