Respecting, protecting ,and fulfilling the human rights of people living with, and vulnerable to, HIV/AIDS has been recognized as an essential element of ethical and effective responses to the epidemic. Human rights law provides one critical tool for implementing a human rights-based approach to HIV/AIDS. Freedom from discrimination is a foundational human rights principle, and is a touchstone of both international and domestic human rights law. This article examines the ways in which Canadian law currently protects people against discrimination based on HIV/AIDS status. The article also reviews the equality rights provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; federal, provincial, and territorial anti-discrimination statutes and policies; and some of the key cases that have applied and developed these legislative protections. Finally, the article looks at the issue of remedies for discrimination under Canadian law. (Other forms of discrimination relevant to people living with HIV/AIDS--specifically, discrimination based on grounds relevant to people from groups disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS-related stigma--will be analyzed in similar detail in a future issue of the Review.)
In Ontario, people suspected of or charged with aggravated assault for exposing another person to HIV through unprotected sexual intercourse risk not only a criminal conviction but also having their names, dates of birth, descriptions, photographs, addresses, sexual history, employment information, and HIV status made public. This disclosure without the consent of the person suspected or charged has usually taken the form of a "public safety advisory." To date, at least five such advisories have been released by police services across Ontario.