Gay tenants win B.C. Human Rights Tribunal complaint
Edmund Bro and Keith Scott have been friends and roommates for about 10 years. Bro is gay, and Scott identifies himself as two-spirited. They both have HIV/AIDS. They also live with other disabilities. Bro has psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia. Scott suffers from osteonecrosis, a disease caused by reduced blood flow to the bones.
Both Bro and Scott receive Canada Pension Plan and provincial disability benefits. The two buddies also receive a subsidy from Wings Housing, a Vancouver-based nonprofit organization that assists people with HIV/AIDS with their housing needs. On October 1, 2006, they entered into a one-year lease on a house in West Vancouver.
The B.C. Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in tenancy on a number of grounds, among them disability, sexual orientation, and lawful source of income. What Bro and Scott experienced with their landlord, Michael John Moody, is exactly what the code forbids.
According to a decision rendered by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal on a complaint filed by Bro and Scott, the two were on several occasions described by Moody as “faggots” and “infected with AIDS”. As well, they were wrongly said to be living on “welfare”.
“In this way, Mr. Moody demeaned Mr. Bro’s and Mr. Scott’s identities in the most vicious and mean-spirited of ways,” tribunal member Lindsay Lyster wrote in the ruling dated January 8, 2010.
Lyster also ordered Moody to pay Bro and Scott compensation of $15,000 each for injury to their dignity, feelings, and self-respect.
Moody did not participate in the proceedings of the tribunal, Lyster also noted. The case was heard on December 22 of last year.
In the decision, Lyster described a number of incidents in which Bro and Scott were subjected not only to taunts but to physical assaults by Moody and his son Guy.
One altercation took place on February 2, 2007, when Moody showed up at the property following three letters sent by his tenants about house repairs he had promised. Bro showed the landlord that the deck was falling apart and was told by Moody that “if that was how you and your fairy faggot friend feel, you can move out.”
Moody advanced toward Bro, who retreated into the house. Despite Bro asserting that a landlord cannot force his way in, Moody pushed the door open and shoved Bro, causing him to fall down.
In another incident on March 1, 2007, Moody’s son Guy arrived at the property and served a notice to end tenancy. According to the tribunal’s decision, Scott testified that the younger Moody asked them “why they didn’t go out and get real jobs”. The landlord’s son also called them “butt fuckers”.
Lyster also recalled from testimony an event that saw Bro trying to restrain Moody while the latter had Scott pinned to the ground. Amid the struggle, Moody, who is in his 70s, said “you fags will never be able to beat me.”
These incidents were “devastating” for Bro and Scott, who the tribunal member noted had been sexually abused as children. Bro testified that he fell into a depression, and Scott told the tribunal that the landlord “used hateful words as bullets to wound, shoot down their self-esteem, and demean their character”.
The two friends vacated Moody’s property on April 30, 2007.