Transgender equality rights now up to the Senate
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Toronto – October 20, 2014 – This past June, hundreds of UFCW Canada activists and community allies marched in the Toronto Trans Rally and March during the World Pride Festival, in solidarity with transgender people who too often face discrimination and violence because of their gender identity. In 2011, Bill C-279 was introduced by NDP MP Randall Garrison as a private member’s bill to protect transgender persons from such hate crimes and discrimination.
In 2013, the bill passed Third Reading in the House of Commons. It was then sent on to the Senate, where it is now before a Senate Committee which is considering amendments to the proposed legislation which would essentially undo the principles the bill aims to uphold.
Bill C-279 is about gender identity and including it as a protective ground in the both the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act. The need for federal legislation that adds “gender identity” to the prohibited ground of discrimination is critical, especially given the fact that only six of the provinces, along with the Northwest Territories have added it to their provincial legislation.
As a leading force of social justice, UFCW Canada has worked with MP Randall Garrison, and with members of the transgender community, in support of this important human rights legislation as originally drafted. In May 2014, UFCW Canada was also a signatory to an open letter along with a number of progressive NGOs to ensure affirmative action on Bill C-279 — without amendments and without additional roadblocks. “It is inexcusable,” says National President Meinema, “that after significant delays in Parliament, Bill C-279 continues to be scrutinized and threatened, in spite of its principles of non-discrimination which are fundamental to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as Canada’s own Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Senate should pass the bill as is without further delay.”
The Senate Committee is set to meet on October 22, 23, 29 and 30. Bill C-279 is on the agenda. For more information on how you can help in actions aimed at passing this bill, check out www.transequalitycanada.com, a coalition group of NGOs working together for transgender rights in Canada.