Main | Thursday, June 10, 2010

CANADA: Federal Transgender Rights Bill Advances On Third Attempt

It may not seem possible to those of us who gaze longingly at Canada's progressive laws for LGBT citizens, but transgender folks are not explicitly protected by anti-discrimination legislation there. That may be about to change.
A private member’s bill seeking human-rights protection for transgender and transsexual Canadians passed second reading in the House of Commons on June 8. The third time might be the charm for Bill Siksay, the NDP MP for Burnaby-Douglas, who has tabled similar bills twice before, none of which have made it this far in the legislative process. “This is a big, historic step,” Siksay told the Straight in a phone interview from Ottawa. “It’s an indication that there is interest and support for this.” Bill C-389 seeks to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to add gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds for discrimination. Siksay, the NDP’s critic for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues, said there wasn’t any “outright” opposition to the bill, which was supported by Liberal, NDP, and Bloc Québécois MPs.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government says the trans rights act is "redundant and that trans people are already protected under the grounds of sex and disability in the Canadian Human Rights Act." They also complain that the bill doesn't define gender identity and gender expression. The bill now moves to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for "detailed consideration."

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