Canada Parliament to Get Transgender Rights Bill, Trudeau Says

AGORA moderator's picture

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday his government would fulfill an election promise this week and introduce legislation that prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals.

Canada’s decision comes after failed efforts by lawmakers in Parliament earlier in this decade, and as an emotional civil-rights debate over transgender rights escalates in the U.S. But this new piece of legislation will likely pass, as the Liberals hold a majority of seats in the lower house and it is likely to get support from other opposition parties.

Details of the Canadian legislation will be made available Tuesday, according to a Canadian government advisory.

In a speech in Montreal, Mr. Trudeau said government legislation marks a big step because it would “ensure the full protection” of transgender people, something he promised during the election campaign last year.

“We must continue to demand true equality,” said Mr. Trudeau, according to prepared remarks he was set to deliver. Mr. Trudeau was in Montreal to receive an award for his efforts to counter antigay views, and has announced plans to participate in gay-pride parades in Toronto and Montreal this year.

Earlier this decade, Canada’s lower house of Parliament twice passed legislation—brought forward on each occasion by opposition-party lawmakers, through a so-called private member’s bill—that would amend the country’s human-rights law to include gender identity as prohibited grounds for discrimination. The proposed bills also offered transgender people protection under the country’s laws banning hate speech.

On each of those occasions, the bills failed to come to a final vote in the upper chamber, or Senate, before the parliamentary session ended.

Seven Canadian provinces do have laws that prevent discrimination due to gender identity.

Canada’s move to enshrine rights for transgender individuals emerges as a debate on the issue escalated last week in the U.S. The Justice Department and North Carolina have sued each other in a legal battle over the state’s law that requires transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said North Carolina’s law is akin to “state-sponsored discrimination.”

And on Friday, the Obama administration advised education boards to allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker facilities of their chosen gender, saying federal law bars discrimination against such students.