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Montréal, Canada, May 19, 2009 --- The well-known Pointe-Claire couple has won a second legal victory in their struggle against homophobia and for the right to live in full equality and dignity, as the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission has recommended $20,000 in damages against their neighbor.

In 2004, Mr. Roger Thibault and Theo Wouters, well-known for their fight for gay rights and for being the first gay civil union couple in Quebec, were the targets of homophobic slurs and threats of violence from a neighbor, G.L. By accusing them of mistreating his son when he played hockey in the street, G.L. came to their house, banged their front door and threatened to hit and kill them, calling them “ f-ing f-gs.”

The couple reported G.L. to the police for having committed hate-motivated crimes; criminal charges were eventually filed against him. In 2006, the Montreal Municipal Court required G.L. to sign a peace bond (a “810” condition) for one year and to
donate $500 to the Farha Foundation, a charitable organization active in AIDS prevention.

The couple also filed, with CRARR’s help, a complaint with the human rights commission, claiming violations of their rights to equality, dignity and physical safety.

On May 8, 2009, the Commission ruled in their favor and ordered G.L. to pay to the couple $14,000 in moral damages and $6,000 in punitive damages by June 5, 2009, failing which the case will be brought to the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal.

“We are very pleased that the human rights commission has spoken out loud and clear against homophobic violence,” said Mr. Thibault. “The right to live in peace, dignity and equality is fundamental to gays and lesbians in Quebec and we are proud to have taken the necessary means to defend this right, not only for us, but also, for all members of our community,” he added.

“It’s absolutely necessary for victims of hate crimes, whether these are based on sexual orientation or other prohibited grounds, to stand up and fight for respect for their rights,” said Mr. Wouters. “After the International Day against Homophobia, we are saying to all gays and lesbians in this country: “Come from the shadows and let no one violate your rights without paying a price,” he added.

In May 2008, the Human Rights Tribunal required a youth in the neighborhood to pay $15,000 for homophobic harassment of the couple.

This second victory is encouraging for Mr. Thibault and Mr. Wouters : they have a third claim before the Human Rights Tribunal in which the human rights commission is seeking $6,000 in damages on their behalf from another neighbor who harassed them back in 1997

According to CRARR’s Executive Director Fo Niemi, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal has increasingly taken a more severe position against perpetrators of violent homophobic and intolerant acts, sending a firm message to society to the effect that hate-motivated violence has no place in Quebec.