Sexual orientation


A printable PDF version of this information sheet is available.

The Alberta Human Rights Act (the Act) prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. This includes protection from differential treatment based on a person's actual or presumed sexual orientation or his or her association with a person who is gay, lesbian, heterosexual or bisexual.

  • Gay or lesbian refers to persons who are sexually attracted to persons of their own sex.
  • Heterosexual refers to persons who are attracted only to persons of the opposite sex.  
  • Bisexual refers to persons who are sexually attracted to persons of both sexes.

Under the Act, discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited in all of the following areas:

  • statements, publications, notices, signs, symbols, emblems or other representations that are published, issued or displayed before the public
  • goods, services, accommodation or facilities customarily available to the public
  • tenancy (both residential and commercial)
  • employment practices: Refusing to hire, promote or provide equal treatment to someone because of his or her sexual orientation is prohibited under the Act. Employees have the right to work in an environment free of harassment based on their sexual orientation
  • employment applications or advertisements
  • membership in trade unions, employers' organizations or occupational associations

In addition to sexual orientation, the Act also prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, age (some restrictions apply), ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income and family status. Employers, landlords, business operators and providers of services are required to reasonably accommodate the needs of individuals based on any of these grounds.

The Alberta Human Rights Act has paramount status in Alberta. This means that where there is a conflict with other provincial legislation, the Human Rights legislation prevails unless it is "expressly declared by an Act of the Legislature that it operates not withstanding" the Alberta Human Rights Act.

Please note: A complaint must be made to the Alberta Human Rights Commission within one year after the alleged incident of discrimination. The one-year period starts the day after the date on which the incident occurred. For help calculating the one-year period, contact the Commission.

July 2017 

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The Alberta Human Rights Commission is an independent commission of the Government of Alberta.

Due to confidentiality concerns, the Commission cannot reply to complaints of discrimination by email. Please contact the Commission by phone or regular mail if you have a specific complaint.

You can access information about making FOIP requests for records held by the Commission on our Contact us page.

The Commission will make publications available in accessible formats upon request for people with disabilities who do not read conventional print.