Ottawa: Today in the House of Commons, Members of Parliament voted to approve the inclusion of “gender identity” and “gender expression” as prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), and as relevant factors in hate crimes sentencing under the Criminal Code.
“Today’s vote represents a significant step toward explicitly recognizing and affirming the equality-rights of trans Canadians,” declared Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale Canada. “For too long, social and political invisibility have enabled discrimination, harassment and hate-motivated violence against the trans community to continue unnoticed and unchallenged.”
Bill C-389, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression), will now move on to the Senate for debate and approval. However, as a private member’s bill, it will require sponsorship by a sitting Senator in order to move forward. As of yet, no Senator has committed to picking up the baton.
“By voting C-389 through the House, MPs have taken a clear stand against transphobia and for the full equality and protection of those Canadians who do not fit into conventional expectations of male or female, masculine or feminine,” stated Kennedy. “This is a huge step forward, and the onus now falls to the Senate to ensure that we as a country continue to move forward in our commitment to human rights. With the threat of a general election looming, the Senate must take all measures necessary to ensure swift passage of this vital piece of legislation.”
Introduced by NDP MP Bill Siksay, Bill C-389 would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) to include “gender identity” and “gender expression” as prohibited grounds of discrimination. It would also add crimes motivated by transphobia to the list of crimes treated by the Criminal Code as potential hate crimes. This kind of explicit reference within the CHRA would afford transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, intersex, gender-queer, gender non-conforming and gender-open individuals clearer protection against discrimination and help create a safer Canada for all.
Egale Canada is a national organization that advances equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people across Canada. It has over 4,000 members in every province and territory in this country.
For more information:
Helen Kennedy, Egale Canada, 416-270-1999