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Canada: Discrimination Against Transgendered Persons Banned

(Apr. 3, 2013) On March 20, 2013, the Canadian House of Commons approved the Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (Gender Identity and Gender Expression) to outlaw discrimination against the transgendered. It will next be considered by the Senate. The Criminal Code provisions in question are on hate propaganda. (Bill C-279, Parliament of Canada website (last visited Mar. 27, 2013); Canadian Human Rights Act, 1985 (as last amended Dec. 15, 2012), JUSTICE LAWS WEBSITE; Criminal Code, 1985 (as last amended Feb. 28, 2013), JUSTICE LAWS WEBSITE; Daniel Mullen, Canada Lawmakers Vote to Ban Transgender Discrimination, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (Mar. 22, 2013).)

The bill introduces changes in the language of both the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act so that “gender identity” and “gender expression” become bases for defining what is discrimination and hate speech. (Mullen, supra.) It is not yet certain what will happen to the proposal in the Senate, as the political party that championed the bill in the House of Commons, the New Democratic Party (NDP), is not represented in the Senate.

If passed, in addition to making hate propaganda against them punishable, the amendment would grant protection to the community of transgendered persons under the Canadian Human Rights Act. (Jordan Press, Bill to Make Violence Against Transgender Canadians a Hate Crime Passes Through House of Commons, OTTAWA CITIZEN (Mar. 21, 2013).)

Speaking about the bill after its passage, Randall Garrison, a Representative in the House of Commons and NDP member, stated:

Our efforts represent a huge step forward but there is still much work to be done to ensure equal access for Trans Canadians to simple services like health care, housing and jobs. Transgender and transsexual citizens are among the most marginalized and are too often victims of harassment and acts of violence. …

We must continue to act on this important issue and, now that the bill has passed through the House of Commons, we urge the Senate to move quickly to guarantee the same rights and protections for transsexual, transgender and gender-variant Canadians that all of us enjoy. (Id.)

Discrimination against transgendered people has received global attention in recent years. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon included such discrimination in a statement about violence and discrimination against the gay community, calling it a human rights violation “that States have a moral duty and a legal obligation to address.” (Secretary-General’s Message to Human Rights Film Festival Screening of “Call Me Kuchu” [Delivered by Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic], Secretary General Ban Ki-moon website (June 28, 2012).)