Panel may rule if sex practices protected

VANCOUVER, British Columbia Wed Apr 9, 2008 12:34pm EDT

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - A Canadian man who claims he was discriminated against as a pagan who practices a form of sadomasochism will get to take his complaint to a human rights tribunal.

An appeals court rejected a bid by Vancouver police on Tuesday to block a hearing on whether Peter Hayes' rights were violated when an officer refused to grant him the permit he needed to get a chauffeur's job.

Hayes complained to British Columbia's Human Rights Tribunal that he was discriminated against because he is a pagan who practices a "BDSM lifestyle" and deserves protection under the human rights code, based on sexual orientation.

BDSM refers to bondage, discipline and submission and sadism and masochism, according to the court documents.

Police went to the courts, arguing the tribunal and a lower court judge erred in agreeing to hear Hayes' complaint because the laws designed to protect the sexual orientation of gays and lesbians did not extend to protecting types of sexual practices.

A B.C. Court of Appeal panel ruled unanimously that the police motion was premature since the tribunal's hearing was to decide what, if any, sexual practices deserved legal protection, and even the tribunal's chairwoman was unsure if the human rights code did that.

"How can the tribunal determine if BDSM falls within the meaning of 'sexual orientation' if it does not have a full understanding of what BDSM means?" Justice Anne Rowles wrote for the three-judge panel.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Rob Wilson)

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