The Vancouver Sun provides closure on a story I’ve been following since 2006. It involves Peter Hayes, who was denied a chauffeur’s permit by the Vancouver police due to alleged accusations that he would use his position to “recruit” people into an imaginary S&M Pagan “sex cult”. In 2008 a B.C. Court of Appeal cleared the way for the case to be heard by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, a preliminary ruling by the Human Rights Tribunal in 2006 stated the case had merit and should go forward. In a decision handed down on November 23rd, the tribunal rejected his appeal.
“Based on all the evidence before us and in light of our credibility findings set out above, we conclude that Mr. Hayes has not met the burden of proving, on a balance of probabilities, that his Paganism or BDSM lifestyle were factors in Constable Barker’s denial of the chauffeur’s permit. As a result of our conclusion that Mr. Hayes’ religion and/or sexual orientation were not factors in Constable Barker’s decision-making, it is not necessary for us to address the issues of whether BDSM is a sexual orientation that is protected by the Code or, if it is, whether Mr. Hayes is a member of that protected group.”
It turns out that Mr. Hayes has a record of sexual abuse and misconduct, and that he was turned down because the officer, after a routine background check, thought he could be a potential threat to women and children riding in his limousine.
“He based this on a review of police files concerning Hayes which showed in 1994 he had been charged and acquitted of sexual assault and an invitation to sexual touching of a person under 14 years old … in January, 2003, police had called at his residence after neighbours complained that he was dancing and posing naked in his bedroom windows while in the view of children … in Oct. 2003 a female partner involved in a master/slave relationship with him told police he had abused her but did not want to press charges.”
Now, it should be noted that Mr. Hayes was never formally convicted of assault or abuse, but it also seems clear that he was not denied a permit due to his religion, or his sexual orientation/preferences. Indeed, a tribunal panel member made a point of noting the constable did not give special focus to Mr. Hayes’ religious beliefs.
Tribunal panel member Heather MacNaughton wrote that “nothing about Constable Barker’s alleged demeanour supports an inference that he had any particular focus on Mr. Hayes’ religion or sexual orientation. Rather, it is consistent with someone who considered Mr. Hayes to be a risk to the vulnerable customers of a limousine service.”
It seems increasingly likely that Hayes exaggerated his encounter with the constable, who had allegedly said he was a “sex cult leader” looking to recruit. It also illustrates the danger of taking journalistic accounts at face value, though the Vancouver Police Department didn’t help matters by fighting the tribunal hearing process every step of the way, making it seem like they had something to hide. One can only think that more transparency on their part might have avoided a five-year legal process.