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Canadian Federal Government Passes Transgender Rights Legislation

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I guess this is slightly older news now, but I didn't see another posting mentioning it (if I just missed it, my apologies!).

Bill C-16, a bill to protect transgender Canadians from discrimination at the federal level, was introduced by the Trudeau government in May 2016.  Here's the legislative summary of the bill:

The bill is intended to protect individuals from discrimination within the sphere of federal jurisdiction and from being the targets of hate propaganda, as a consequence of their gender identity or their gender expression. The bill adds “gender identity or expression” to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the list of characteristics of identifiable groups protected from hate propaganda in the Criminal Code. It also adds that evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on a person’s gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance for a court to consider when imposing a criminal sentence.

The bill had been stalled in the senate for a while, but the good news is that it was finally passed by the senate (without amendment!) on June 15 of this year.  It received royal assent, and became law, on June 19!

This has been a long time in getting here.  The NDP had been trying to get similar legislation passed as a private member's bill for roughly a decade during the years the Conservative Party was in power, but it never ended up passing.  Now that the Liberal Party formed the government in late 2015, this version was actually introduced as a government bill by Trudeau's Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Of course, the small irony is that every province and territory ended up adopting protections for transgender Canadians before the federal government finally passed their law.  (In one case, I think New Brunswick, they beat the passage of C-16 by only a few weeks.)  But this is still an important milestone to have these protections in place at the federal level, and was a cause for celebration for transgender Canadians across the country!

 

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