OTTAWA, November 22, 2012 – Bill C-279, an Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression), arrived for hearing before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human rights November 20. The bill, introduced by MP Randall Garrison (NDP – Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca), had its second reading last spring and will return to the House of Commons for final reading and vote following committee study. The bill would add gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds under the federal human rights code and Criminal Code, but does not actually define the terms.
This bill would add a very subjective category – i.e., what gender someone BELIEVES him- or herself to be – to the objective list of grounds under which discrimination is already quite rightly prohibited. These include race, colour, creed, gender, national origin and other objective characteristics. To add a category that is essentially self-defined would put employers and others who must help uphold human rights law in a very difficult position. If passed, this Bill would also make it legal for males who believe themselves to be female to access women’s washrooms. In the main, legal experts agree that discrimination against the transgendered is already covered by laws protecting gender and sexual orientation.
In addition to sending letters to your MP expressing concerns about this unnecessary proposed change, MP Rob Anders is hosting a petition against it that you may wish to consider signing.