OTTAWA, Dec. 9, 2010 – Bill C-389, which proposes to make gender identity and gender expression prohibited grounds for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act,  passed second reading Dec. 8. Although this bill was not expected to come up for a vote until February, NDP MP Bill Siksay, who introduced it, traded places with another NDP MP’s bill, and as a result, the bill came forward to the House of Commons on December 8.

The bill passed 143 to 131 in the House of Commons at this report stage. The next stage, debate and third reading in the House of Commons, will probably occur in late February or early March of 2011.

As we noted in our membership message of Nov. 12, this proposal is not in support of fair and equal treatment, but rather deals specifically with adding a new and rather subjective category to the human rights code. Bill C-389 does not include a definition of “gender identity” or “gender expression”. Of real concern is that many aspects of gender identity issues contain a strong element of self-definition. The standard diagnostic manual for psychiatrists, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 4th Edition, lists gender identity questions as a disorder. The condition is very different from such objective states as race, colour, creed or gender, all of which the law quite rightly protects from discrimination in the workplace, and in the provision of goods and services.

Please contact your MP and thank him or her for voting against this bill. If your MP voted in favour, please try to raise the concern that, rather than supporting human rights, this proposal could create serious problems for employers and service providers who could face human rights complaints on the strength of a quality not even readily apparent. Concerns have also been raised that, if C-389 succeeds, public organizations may not be able to enforce traditional gender segregation in washrooms, locker rooms or fitting rooms.

If you have not already done so, please express concerns to the following:

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2

The Honourable Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON   K1A 0A6
Your MP
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6

How MPs voted at Second Reading. Compiled by Campaign Life Coalition.