B.C. judge upholds tribunal ruling over comedian's tirade towards lesbian

VANCOUVER – A B.C. Supreme Court judge has upheld a ruling from a human rights tribunal awarding more than $22,000 to a lesbian after a comedian insulted her at a restaurant.

Comedian Guy Earle and restaurant owner Salam Ismail appealed the tribunal ruling that said they discriminated against Lorna Pardy when Earle unleashed a torrent of homophobic insults during a 2007 comedy show.

The tribunal heard that Earle began the insults when he saw Pardy kissing her partner and the situation escalated with Earle confronting the woman, pushing her and breaking her sunglasses.

The challengers claimed part of the Human Rights Code was unconstitutional and infringed on their right to freedom of expression.

Justice Jon Sigurdson noted that while comedic expression may be protection — even when it’s in poor taste — Earle’s comments were far from the core values of that freedom.

The tribunal ordered Earle to pay the woman $15,000 and Ismail to pay $7,500, and the judge upheld the award saying Earle exacerbated the effect on the woman when he lied about the incident during a radio interview.