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British Columbia’s directions on pronouns in court are problematic

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Written by Shahdin Farsai for the Canadian Lawyer Magazine, Feb 5th, 2021

This article was first published as an opinion piece in Canadian Lawyer Magazine. The editors removed Ms Farsai’s contribution under pressure from activists rather than encourage a respectful and open dialog on the issues she presents herein. Canadian Gender Report is adamantly opposed to the use of forced and coercive practices that attempt to change how people identify themselves and others. We are honoured to be able to republish Ms Farsai’s opinion piece here.

On December 16, 2020, both the BC Supreme and Provincial courts issued practice directions to lawyers that require parties and/or lawyers to state their preferred gender pronouns at the beginning of all court proceedings, which are “to be used” by all participants appearing before the courts including judges.

My antennas naturally went up as a lawyer. I see these practice directions as problematic for three central reasons. They are potentially compelled speech in court, a breach of privacy rights, and damage the perception of judicial impartiality.

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