Unifor applauds the Federal government’s introduction of bill C-16, which seeks to extend human rights and secure full legal protection for transgender people by enshrining gender identity and gender expression in Canadian law.
“The fact that the government announced the bill and did so on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, is a good sign”, said Unifor’s National President Jerry Dias.
While the inclusion of gender identity in to the Canadian Human Rights Act has been in the making for over a decade, this is the first time such legislation is being proposed by a sitting government. Previously a similar private member’s bill was introduced by Bill Siksay NDP MP and later by Randall Garrison (NDP MP for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke). In 2015 the bill proposed by Garrison passed but was later stalled by the Senate. With the support of the Liberal’s majority government it is hoped that the bill will now become law.
Dias said, “This move by the Government is a long overdue advancement of rights that will trigger positive change for transgender people in our communities.”
If passed in to law, C-16 would bring broad protections by classifying discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression as a hate crime, this includes hate speech. The proposed law would result in not only legal protection for transgender and gender diverse people in Canada, but also empower law enforcement to track homophobic and transphobic hate crimes.
While this announcement is met with cheers by Unifor, it is important to note that the bill must not only pass all three readings but also be approved by the Senate, which is currently a Conservative majority. Conservative Senators have opposed gender expression and gender identity from being included in the Canadian Human Rights Act in the past. It is clear that our work for social justice must continue for this historic moment to become a reality.
Unifor has made major breakthroughs on advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the workplace and in the community. “Now will be no different, this is the time to speak loudly and act to push and demand the inclusion of trans rights at the federal level,” said Dias.