Surrey judge honoured for work with LGBTT

Judge Gary Cohen lauded for his work with gay/lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community

Surrey's Judge J. Gary Cohen was given the Hero Awards by SOGIC.

Surrey's Judge J. Gary Cohen was given the Hero Awards by SOGIC.

A Surrey judge has been named a hero for his support of people of alternate sexual persuasion and gender identity.

Hon. Judge J. Gary Cohen has won the Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) 2012 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference (SOGIC) Hero Award.

Cohen receives the award in recognition of his significant contributions in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and two-spirited (LGBTT) communities in Canada.

“Judge Cohen has dedicated an overwhelming amount of his professional and personal time towards improving the lives of LGBTT people both within his community and the legal profession,” said Kael McKenzie, SOGIC Awards Committee Chair. “Throughout his career, he has served as a role model and mentor to many, and has effectively brought about a cultural shift amongst lawyers and the judiciary in terms of how LGBTT people and issues are considered.”

Cohen’s commitment to the LGBTT community dates back to his time as an undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University (SFU), where he was President of the Gay People of SFU group from 1976 to 1977. Later, as a law student at UBC in 1978, Judge Cohen was founder and first President of the UBC Law Gay and Lesbian Students’ Association, which helped build a culture of acceptance towards gay and lesbian students on campus. The association paved the way for the UBC Outlaws, which today is a thriving club for LGBTT law students at UBC.

As a practising lawyer, Judge Cohen’s presence as a prominent, openly gay lawyer in suburban Vancouver, combined with his extensive work in family law, served to significantly raise the profile of LGBTT members of the law profession and community.

Since his appointment to the BC Bench in 1999, Judge Cohen has continued to advocate tirelessly on behalf of the LGBTT community.

The SOGIC Hero Award recognizes contributions made in the cause of equality for LGBTT people in Canada by a member of the LGBTT community. This year’s award will be presented to Judge Cohen at the Touchstone Reception on Tuesday, August 14 at 5:15 p.m. in the Princess Louisa Suite of the Vancouver Convention Centre.

The reception is held in conjunction with the 2012 CBA Canadian Legal Conference, taking place in Vancouver from August 11-14, and is open to accredited media.