Liberals Unveil Plan to Outlaw Transgender Hate Speech, Discrimination

By Press, Jordan | The Canadian Press, May 17, 2016 | Go to article overview

Liberals Unveil Plan to Outlaw Transgender Hate Speech, Discrimination


Press, Jordan, The Canadian Press


Liberals unveil transgender rights law

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OTTAWA - For years, transgender Canadians had to come up with creative arguments in front of courts and commissions to link discrimination against them with existing human rights laws.

The human rights laws extend some protections to transgender people under the sex discrimination category, but there have been few cases before the federal human rights tribunal, so the scope of the protections themselves has not been all that clear.

The same situation exists for hate speech and hate crime laws: violence against transgender persons may have been captured before, but it wasn't clearly spelled out.

Legislation the government introduced Tuesday would clarify all of that, adding gender identity and expression to human rights and hate crime laws.

"Thank goodness this bill is passing because it will protect us from ... hateful propaganda, assaults, rape -- stuff like that," said Charlie Lowthian-Rickert, who was born a boy but identifies as a girl.

"It could protect us and stop the people who would have just gone off and done it in the past and discriminated or assaulted us. Now it could be stopping them and then basically punishing them if they actually do it," the 10-year-old said during a morning news conference alongside the federal justice minister.

The bill still has numerous steps before it becomes law. The NDP tried unsuccessfully to fast-track the measure through the House of Commons on Tuesday, arguing it was similar to a private member's bill the Commons approved in the last Parliament with cross-party support.

That bill, from New Democrat Randall Garrison, languished in the Senate before it was ultimately gutted and died when the election was called.

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said she's prepared to vote for the new bill, but opposition remains in the Senate where Conservative Don Plett said he's not ready to support the measure.

On his way into the Commons, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he expects the Senate to recognize the rights contained in the bill.

The legislation would, if passed, make it illegal under the Canadian Human Rights Act to deny someone a job or to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of the gender they identify with or outwardly express.

It would also amend the Criminal Code to extend hate speech laws to include gender identity and expression.

Criminal laws would be changed to make it a hate crime to target someone because of their gender identity or gender expression, meaning judges would have to consider it as an aggravating factor in deciding on a sentence to. …

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