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Legal challenge against Sask. pronoun policy halted, government to file appeal

People attend competing rallies in support of, and opposing the Saskatchewan government's proposed legislation on pronoun policy in front of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Heywood Yu People attend competing rallies in support of, and opposing the Saskatchewan government's proposed legislation on pronoun policy in front of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Heywood Yu
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Arguments surrounding the constitutional challenge against Saskatchewan’s pronoun policy have been halted – due to an impending appeal from the provincial government.

In an update on Monday, Egale Canada – the organization representing UR Pride in its legal proceedings – stated that the Government of Saskatchewan was seeking to appeal a Feb. 16 decision from Justice Michael Megaw.

Megaw’s decision allowed the LGBTQ2+ rights organization to change the focus of its original legal challenge from the now defunct pronoun policy to the Parents’ Bill of Rights – therefore allowing the case to proceed.

According to Egale, the province has also indicated it will seek a stay in the proceedings at Regina’s Court of King’s Bench.

The Parents’ Bill of Rights, which requires parental consent when children under 16 want to change their names or pronouns at school, began as the province’s pronoun policy.

The policy was first introduced on Aug. 22, 2023 and was legally challenged by UR Pride shortly thereafter.

Lawyers representing the government have argued the legal challenge against the policy is now moot given the fact the Parents’ Bill of Rights has now been enshrined into law.

The government recalled the legislature in October with the express purpose to pass the legislation after the Court of Kings’ Bench issued an injunction against the policy.

In the process, the Government of Saskatchewan enacted the notwithstanding clause – a rarely used measure that allows governments to override certain Charter rights for a period of five years.

“With the legislation being passed, in effect and proclaimed – the policy becomes redundant. So it has been rescinded,” Premier Scott Moe told reporters on Oct. 25.

“I’m not sure how a court case would continue with no policy.”

UR Pride has argued the pronoun policy violates two sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They include Section 7 related to personal security and Section 15 related to equality rights.

In its update, Egale said that at every step of its legal challenge, the court has sided in the organization’s favour. Egale then vowed to continue with its fight against the legislation.

"The Saskatchewan Court of King’s Bench has already found that the Saskatchewan government’s pronoun policy (now enacted into legislation) will inflict irreparable harm on vulnerable young people,” Egale’s statement read.

“Our priority in this case will always be protecting trans and gender-diverse youth and seeking to end the harm being inflicted upon them as quickly as possible. For this reason, UR Pride will oppose the Government’s leave and stay applications.”

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