Human Rights Legal Support Centre

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Human Rights and Contracts

Ontario’s Human Rights Code and contracts: do you think you have been discriminated against or harassed in a situation involving a contract?

This is general information only. It is not legal advice about your situation.


What is a “contract” under the Code?

Contracts are a protected area under the Code. A contract is a verbal or written agreement that is covered by the law. The Code covers all types of contracts. Anyone who is legally capable of entering into a contract has the right to do so with any other person without being discriminated against because of one of the grounds in the Code.

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My partner and I went to buy a car and the man on the lot said he would not sell to a gay couple because his religion says it is a sin. I know that religion is also a ground in the Code. Can he do this?

No. This is discrimination in the area of contracts on the basis of sexual orientation. Although religion is covered as “creed” under the Code, it does not mean that a person’s religious beliefs allow them to discriminate on other grounds. There are certain exemptions set out in section 18 of the Code.

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I was corresponding by e-mail with the owner of a cottage for sale. We agreed on a price and conditions. When I arrived to look at the cottage he said “Oh, wow, I didn’t know you were Black, sorry, I can’t sell it to you. Can he do that?

No. This is a contract and the owner cannot refuse to sell to you because of your race or any of the other prohibited grounds under the Code.

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