This bill is the seventh bill on this issue since 2005. All other bills put forward by the opposition or as private members’ bills have met incredible resistance and failure in the Senate. Bill C-16 is the first government-sponsored bill.
Ottawa (16 June 2017) — The struggle to have gender identity and expression protected from discrimination and violence under the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code is over.
On June 15, the Senate passed Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, which includes language prohibiting discrimination against transgender and gender non-binary individuals, and includes protections provided by the hate speech and hate crime provisions in Canadian law. This bill is the seventh bill on this issue since 2005. All other bills put forward by the opposition or as private members’ bills have met incredible resistance by the government in power and subsequent failure in the Senate. This time, Conservative Senators tried to amend the legislation but to no success.
Bill C-16 is the first government-sponsored bill. The vote was 67–11.
Advocates for the inclusion of gender identity and gender expression on the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination have been fighting a very long time for such protection. As Sandeep Prasad, executive director at Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights said in a blog post on the Huffington Post in May, “This bill is more than a symbolic nod; it will mean tangible protections to a community that faces discrimination and disproportionate rates of violence.”
Now with protection under our human rights legislation and Canada’s Criminal Code, members of the transgender community can seek recourse in the face of harassment, discrimination, hate speech and violence.
As Prasad said, “A bill like C-16 empowers people to come forward.”
“This bill was a long time in coming,” said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “Members of Parliament and Senators made the right decision to pass this legislation. Discrimination, harassment and violence have no place in the lives of Canadians.”
“We hope that by passing this bill transgender and non-binary people will have the space to tell their stories, be a key part of changing the structural inequalities in our institutions, workplaces and communities, and have the right to equality, as they deserve,” said Brown. “As allies, we will continue working toward equality and fairness for all.”