Justice Centre representing three more BC aestheticians facing Human Rights complaints over refusal to perform waxing service

The Justice Centre is representing two British Columbian aestheticians in hearings this week, and one later in July, at the BC Human Rights Tribunal. The three aestheticians face complaints for declining to perform waxing services for a trans-identifying individual who possesses male genitalia.

The first complaint hearing against Blue Heaven Beauty Lounge and its owner, Sandeep Banipal, proceeds on July 4, 2019. Banipal and her husband are adherents to the Sikh religion. Ms. Banipal is not trained to wax male genitals, and due to religious and personal reasons is not comfortable doing so. Blue Heaven Beauty Lounge does not advertise waxing services for male genitalia. “It is not something I am comfortable or trained to do,” explained Banipal in her response to the complaint.

Banipal received notice of a complaint filed against her in March of 2018 by “JY,” whose identity is protected by the Tribunal’s anonymity Order. The complaint states that JY requested an appointment for a “Brazilian” and the request was declined. JY’s complaint cites discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression, in violation of section 8 of the BC Human Rights Code.

The Justice Centre will return to the Tribunal on July 5 to defend another aesthetician, Sukhi Hehar Gill, who is also facing a complaint from JY. When Hehar received JY’s request for waxing services on the Complainant’s arms and legs, Hehar was providing her services only by way of house calls, where she attended alone to female clients only. A practicing Sikh, Hehar is opposed to travelling to a client’s house if the client, apart from a given gender identity, is biologically male. “It is contrary to my faith,” explained Hehar in her response to JY’s complaint.

In addition, on July 17, 2019, the Justice Centre will represent Marcia Carnauba, another aesthetician who declined JY’s request to perform waxing services because Carnauba does not have the requisite training, tools or comfort level to perform waxing services on male genitalia.

In total, JY has filed more than 12 complaints against Vancouver-area aestheticians, over their refusal to provide waxing services on biologically male genitalia. .

In September 2018, the Justice Centre secured a victory for British Columbia aesthetician Sheilah Poyer, one of the women against whom JY has made complaints for declining to provide a “Brazilian” bikini wax service to JY. JY withdrew the complaint against Ms. Poyer rather than proceeding to a hearing. Ms. Poyer’s case is not the first case where JY has withdrawn a complaint rather than proceed to a hearing.

In a May 30, 2019 ruling in JY v. Various Waxing Salons, the BC Human Rights Tribunal expressed its concern about the “rights” of transgender women to access “gender affirming” care such as waxing, which the Tribunal says is “critical,” even if this is “a very intimate service that is sometimes performed by women who are themselves vulnerable.” The Tribunal states that JY has a “genuine grievance” about “pervasive discrimination against transgender women,” and this “is the reason that the Tribunal exists.”

The Tribunal states further that it is “troubled that some of JY’s comments, made within this process and online,” suggest that JY “holds stereotypical and negative views about immigrants to Canada.” The Tribunal stated that “on their face, many of the businesses which JY complains against appear to be run by people who speak English as a second language and/or are racialized women.”

“I have found that JY’s pattern of filing a large number of complaints and then withdrawing those where the respondent mounts a defence is improper,” concludes the May 30 ruling.

Each of the three hearings commence at 10:00 a.m. on July 4, 5, and 17 at the BC Human Rights Tribunal, 1170-605 Robson Street, Vancouver. The hearings are open to the public.

No business owner or service provider should be compelled to provide services she is not trained, equipped or comfortable to provide.

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