was born and raised in Vancouver, the most beautiful city in the
world. I completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Classical Studies
at the University of British Columbia in May 1977. After coming
out in my third year, I became active in what was then called “Gay
People of U.B.C.”. I started my first year of law school in
1979 at U.B.C. and was a founder of the first LGBT law student organization
in Canada. I took a year’s leave from law school in 1980-81
to study French in the first year of a baccalaureate program at
Universite Laval because I thought it important to know Canada’s
other official language and loved Quebec City. I graduated with
a Bachelor of Law degree in May 1982 and articled for one year with
the Legal Services Society of British Columbia where I gained useful
experience working on criminal, refugee, and poverty law cases.
After I was called to the Bar in May 1983 I spent the summer as
a Youth Steward at the World Council of Churches Assembly in Vancouver.
In January 1984, Ken Smith and I set up the law firm of Smith
& Hughes. I was the lawyer for the complainants
in the first Canadian human rights case to establish that HIV was
a disability protected against discrimination. The case also established
that persons who associated with HIV positive persons or are perceived
to be at high risk for contracting HIV are also protected from discrimination.
In a later human rights case I represented a client who was denied
life insurance because their spouse was HIV positive. The human
rights tribunal held the complainant was unfairly discriminated
against because of a perceived disability.
Over the years I have represented clients in various court challenges
against discriminatory government policies and legislation that
refused to recognize our equality rights such as the Canadian Forces
policy to not allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military;
the failure of immigration legislation to include same-sex partners
for sponsorship in the Family Class; and the refusal of Human Resources
Development Canada to provide the Survivor’s Pension under
the Canada Pension Plan to a same-sex partner.
I believe every couple should have freedom of choice to marry regardless
of their sexual orientation. I am passionately committed to the
campaign for equal marriage and represented liberal Jewish rabbis
at the B.C. Court of Appeal and the Canadian Unitarian Council at
the Supreme Court of Canada as interveners in support of equal marriage.
My spouse, Allen Hunt, and I were married under the care of Vancouver
Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) on
May 1, 2004.
In the mid-1990s I increasingly focused on representing gay, lesbian,
bisexual, transsexual and transgendered refugee claimants and
partners in same-sex relationships immigrating to Canada. I was
involved from the beginning with the struggle to gain recognition
from the Immigration Department for our relationships and to offer
protection in Canada to those fleeing persecution in their home
countries because of their sexual orientation, gender identity
or HIV status. I am a founding member of the Rainbow Refugee Committee,
a non-profit community group in Vancouver that offers support to
queer refugee claimants. I spent seven years on the executive of
the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee (SOGIC) of
the Canadian Bar Association, serving in every position from Secretary
to Chair. I served on the Board of Directors of AMV AIDS
Memorial Society of Vancouver for 10 years and am proud to have
been involved in the building of the beautiful monument at Sunset
Beach West that was completed in 2006. I am an active member
of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in both my Monthly
Meeting and Yearly Meeting.
My preferred area of practice is in immigration and refugee law.
Contact me at:
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services or OUT/LAW Immigration, please use our OUT/LAW
AIDS Memorial Photos Ground-Breaking Ceremony
Rob Hughes with Alan Rock, MInister of Health, at the dedication
ceremony fro the Vancouver Aids Memorial on November 30, 2004. View