Canada introduces bill to protect transgender rights

Tue May 17, 2016 12:06pm EDT
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By Leah Schnurr

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Liberal government introduced legislation on Tuesday to protect transgender people from discrimination and hate crimes, a move that comes as the push for such rights has sparked controversy in the United States.

"Our laws must reflect the rich diversity and inclusiveness which are among our greatest strengths as Canadians," said Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was joined by members and advocates of the transgender community.

"We believe this legislation would ensure that everyone can live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement on Tuesday that even with the legislation, "there remains much to be done."

"Far too many people still face harassment, discrimination, and violence for being who they are. This is unacceptable," he said in the statement recognizing International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

The bill would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and expression.

The criminal code would also be amended so that gender identity is included in the identifiable groups protected from hate propaganda. The code would also be clarified to say that if a crime is motivated by hate based on gender identity, a judge must consider that as an aggravating factor in sentencing.

With the Liberals holding a majority in the House of Commons, the legislation is highly likely to pass, though it was not clear if parliamentarians will be allowed to vote freely as they are with physician-assisted dying legislation that is currently been debated.   Continued...

A boy holds a large rainbow tarp while taking part in Vancouver's 35th annual Pride Parade in Vancouver, British Columbia August 4, 2013. REUTERS/Ben Nelms