Tuesday, the Trudeau government introduced legislation that would protect the legal and human rights of transgendered people in Canada.
I speak for everyone at Women’s Post when I say: It’s about time!
The bill (Bill C-16), if passed, will amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to add gender identity and expression to the list of rights protected against discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate speech. It will also include gender identity and gender expression as an “identifiable group” along with sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity.
This is a big deal — especially considering this is Canada’s eight attempt at giving transgendered people these rights to begin with. Seven times similar bills have been introduced to the House of Commons and discarded along the way to becoming law. Why? I have absolutely no idea, but all I can say is that it better go through this time.
“We live in a time when discrimination in any form is completely unacceptable,” said Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who presented the bill to the House, at a news conference. “This is a message of hope to ensure that we recognize gender identity and gender expression and provide the ability in our country for people to feel safe and secure in who they are.”
While I’m ecstatic that this bill has made its way through the first reading on the House floor, it’s a bit disheartening that the house didn’t agree with NDP MP Randall Garrison (NDP critic for LGBTQ issues) and push the bill right through to the Senate.
Garrison was one of the people who proposed a similar private member’s bill previously that was shut down in the Senate. He was hoping the House would see fit to forgo the second and third reading of Bill C-16 and proceed with it directly as written. This would avoid a lot of “debate” (what could anyone possibly have against this bill?) and would put the onus on the Senate to shut it down. Now, the bill will be referred to committee and read two more times before it heads to the final chamber.
It’s a much longer process, but luckily there has been so much publicity surrounding this bill that if the government was unable to pass it, it would reflect horribly on them. The government’s decision to table this law on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia should mean a swift and clean passage of the legislation, but you never know.
It’s 2016, and it’s time Canada. If we are going to preach equality and freedom, let’s make sure it’s for everyone!