Judge J. Gary Cohen of the Surrey BC Provincial Court was recently presented the Canadian Bar Association’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference (SOGIC) 2012 Hero Award.
The Hero Award is presented to “lawyers, professors, law students or judges who are members of the LGBTT communities, who have advanced the cause of equality of the LGBTT communities through either a single important action or series of actions or through a career contribution and/or those, who through excellence in their profession or community, or both, have served as a role model for other members of the LGBTT communities.”
Among his many contributions, Cohen “was likely the first lawyer to recommend that LGBTT clients marry at sea, which could be argued as valid in many countries.” The CBA’s press release also notes that “From the time he was first appointed to the Bench, Judge Cohen made a point of using the word “gay” and discussing LGBTT issues in conversations with other judges, which slowly but surely led to a shift in judges’ attitudes towards the LGBTT community.”
Cohen was the founder and first President of the UBC Law Gay & Lesbian Students’ Association in 1978 and went on to serve many committees and organizations; he was president of both the International Association of Gay and Lesbian Judges and the BC Provincial Court Judges Association, and worked tirelessly for the CBA’s Gender Equality Committee. For more on Cohen, see the Xtra article, Gay BC judge wins Hero Award and the Province article, Gay Surrey judge earns honours from the Canadian Bar Association.