Caleb Gardiner recently got the boot from an accommodation he found on Craigslist because he’s gay. But, because of how BC’s human rights code works, it’s totally legal.
Gardiner had just returned to Vancouver and was looking for a temporary place to stay while he searched for a new apartment.
He found a listing on Craigslist for a bed in a shared space, with the condition that someone staying over was an extra $10 per night. He said OK, and let the renter know his boyfriend would be staying over.
“When I used the word boyfriend, that’s when everything turned south,” Gardiner told BuzzFeed Canada.
“If you guys are gay, I cannot allow this to happen in my house. Pls don’t bring your boyfriend to sleepover in my house,” the renter, identified as Jenny, told Gardiner over text message.
The renter said she is a Christian and that their relationship is “totally against God’s will. I don’t want this thing in my house at all.”
She also said that if that was a problem, she would refund Gardiner’s money.
Gardiner was out for dinner with his boyfriend, Joel, and some friends when he got the message.
“I was outraged in the moment,” said Gardiner, adding that his boyfriend Joel was even angrier.
His first instinct was to contact a lawyer, but it turns out what happened is within the law.
Although it is illegal to discriminate against tenants based on their sexual orientation when renting out a whole place, that doesn’t apply in shared spaces, such as when someone is just renting a bedroom.
According to Section 10 of BC’s Human Rights Code, if “sleeping, bathroom or cooking facilities” are shared, renters can discriminate however they wish.
Robyn Durling, communications director for the BC Human Rights Clinic, explained that the exception has practical reasons behind it.
“That allows women to have another woman with them, that allows a Jewish person to have another Jewish person using their kitchen,” Durling told BuzzFeed Canada.
“It’s intended to say that yes, in certain circumstances when people are living in close proximity, there may be a need to discriminate.”
Gardiner ultimately opted to check out and get a refund, leaving him hunting for other accommodation.
Gardiner and his boyfriend posted screenshots of the text exchange on Facebook, where they’ve gone “viral-ish.” “Most people have been shocked and want to say it’s illegal,” said Gardiner.
“I think it was presumed by people that given marriage equality in Vancouver for more than 10 years now that this sort of thing wouldn’t be legal.”
Lauren Strapagiel is Managing Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.
Contact Lauren Strapagiel at firstname.lastname@example.org.