The lawyer who took down Jessica Yaniv explains the case

“One of the clients I spoke with was crying. It was a very heavy weight off her shoulders—the stress, the loss of income. She was exceedingly relieved.”

Anna Slatz Montreal QC

Today, the BC Human Rights Tribunal released their bombshell ruling in favour of all of the defendants Jessica “Jonathan” Yaniv had brought suits against for declining to provide services to her male genitals. In three of the cases, Yaniv was ordered to pay $2,000 in damages each to Sandeep Banipal, Marcia DaSilva, and Sukhdip Hehar for “improper conduct.”

The details of the ruling, released in a 60-page document, includes stunning detail of the Tribunal’s decision, with Yaniv being described as “engaging in extortionate behaviour,” and “being untruthful” with details, as well as “offering evidence calculated to mislead the Tribunal.”

Most shockingly, the Tribunal recognized the reality that the majority of defendants in the case were racialized women, and documented a condemnation of Yaniv as being on a mission to “punish” certain racial groups for not “assimilating into Canadian culture.” According to the ruling documents, Yaniv allegedly attempted to explain away the volume of suits against racialized women as an unavoidable consequence of “these are the only people” who provide these aesthetic services.

The Tribunal didn’t buy it.

Speaking with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom’s Jay Cameron, one of the key lawyers who worked on behalf of the women pro bono, the excitement over the ruling rang through his voice.

“One of the clients I spoke with was crying. It was a very heavy weight off her shoulders—the stress, the loss of income. She was exceedingly relieved.”

Commending the Tribunal for their comprehensive ruling, Cameron discussed the details of the document released by the BCHRT.

“It became evident there was a [racial] pattern with the complaints once there was more information about them.” Cameron says, noting that the pattern wasn’t immediately clear due to the publication ban, which obscured the details from case to case. But once the individual respondents were named, all became clear. Cameron also stated that the comments made by Yaniv at the tribunal proceedings itself revealed a highly charged racial sentiment.

“Yaniv’s perception of why there was a refusal to provide a service—whether because of culture, religion, or failure to conform to Canadian social norms as Yaniv sees them.” Cameron says, “That became something obvious that we had to advance on behalf of the defendants—that there was an improper motivation for the complaints.”

The Tribunal ruling revealed that Yaniv had also used fake Facebook profiles and profile images to solicit services from the women in an attempt to present as either a biological female, or significantly more feminine and far along transition than Yaniv in fact was.

On this, Cameron says “Yaniv realized when using their ordinary physical presentation on Facebook, that the women were saying look, we don’t provide this service to men because we don’t service male genitalia,” continuing, “So to work around that, Yaniv thought to work around that I will present as something stereotypically female and then spring it on them later.”

Cameron adds that the Tribunal found it was improper and calculated to obtain sufficient evidence against a service provider to ground a human rights complaint.

While Cameron said he could not comment on whether or not he foresees Yaniv attempting to ground a complaint against him in the wake of his latest victory, he offered that the Justice Centre was a public constitutional firm that did pro bono work on public interest cases.

“The friction between self-identification and service providers, that’s of public interest. The theatrical aspects of some of the complainant’s behaviour, that’s of public interest. The Justice Centre exists by virtue of the fact that people make donations.”

While the Tribunal cases for the estheticians may have come to a close, Yaniv has already launched two additional suits… One in the BCHRT against anti-LGBT Christian activist Bill Whatcott for allegedly misgendering Yaniv, and one in the BC Civil Courts against a Vancouver-area physiotherapist after the table Yaniv had been lying on allegedly broke.

In both cases, Yaniv is seeking the maximum allowable claim of $35,000.


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