Transgender discrimination bill passed by Parliament

Bill C-279 adds gender identity, gender expression to list of prohibited grounds under federal human rights act

The House of Commons has passed a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgender Canadians.

The bill, a private member’s bill introduced by NDP MP Randall Garrison, passed in a 149-137 vote on March 20. Prime Minister Stephen Harper opposed the bill, but 16 Conservative MPs — including four cabinet ministers — backed it.

"Transgender and transsexual citizens are among the most marginalized and are too often victims of harassment and acts of violence," Garrison said in a statement after the vote.

Bill C-279, an Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (Gender Identity and Gender Expression) still needs to be passed by the Senate.

Human rights changes

It amends the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) “to include gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination.”

The CHRA already includes discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted.

Criminal code changes

It also amends the Criminal Code to include gender identity and gender expression as “distinguishing characteristics” that are protected and also need to be taken into account at time of sentencing.

The bill will become law 30 days after it receives royal assent.

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