March 21, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Canadian lawmakers approve transgender rights bill
Canada, Parliament, gay news, Washington Blade

Canadian Parliament (Photo by Maria Azzurra Mugnai via Wikimedia Commons)

Canadian lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill that would add gender identity and expression to the country’s anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws.

“Today’s vote represents a significant step toward recognizing and affirming the equality rights of trans and gender variant people in Canada,” Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale Canada, an LGBT rights group, said after the measure passed in the House of Commons by a 149-137 vote margin. “For too long, social and political invisibility have enabled discrimination, harassment and hate-motivated violence against the trans community to continue unnoticed and unchallenged.”

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Labor Minister Lisa Raitt and Heritage Minister James Moore are among the Conservatives who backed the measure that Parliamentarian Randall Garrison of British Columbia introduced. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is among those who opposed his bill.

“Today, New Democrats are proud to have contributed to ensuring equal protection under the law from discrimination and hatred based on gender identity,” Garrison said in a statement to the Globe and Mail after the vote. “Transgender and transsexual citizens are among the most marginalized and are too often victims of harassment and acts of violence.”

Parliamentarians approved the bill less than a month after the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled a Saskatchewan street preacher violated the province’s human rights ordinance when he distributed anti-gay flyers in Saskatoon and Regina in 2001 and 2002. Members of the Ontario Liberal Party in January elected Kathleen Wynne as the country’s first gay provincial premier.

Kennedy urged members of the Canadian Senate to approve the transgender rights bill.

“MPs have taken a clear stand against hatred and discrimination and for the full equality and protection of all people in Canada,” she said. “This is a huge step forward, and the onus now falls to the Senate to ensure that we as a country continue to move forward in our commitment to human rights. The Senate must take all measures necessary to ensure swift passage of this vital piece of legislation.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

1 Comment
  • I felt motivated to comment on your article, which is well set out and concise. However, it misses the main issue…The People’s moral, ethical and God-Fearing beliefs should decide whether they want to have same sex marriage legalized and NOT the Government and the law courts.

    The reason is simple…we are a nation built on the Will of the People and that means the vast majority of the People. This Majority is against gay marriage and this fact is and will ever remain a silent truth… EVEN IF The People fear repercussions by the powerful gay lobby and supporters.

    Most Americans believe in GOD. GOD has said that it is not homosexuality which is a sin, it is the sexual act between same sex which is the sin. Marriage sanctifies sex. So therein lies the contradiction if same sex marriage is allowed. Because in fact, it is more than just a sin…it is an abomination in GOD’s eyes. God could never sanctify an abomination. Unfortunately for the gay lobby, there is no way for the gays to deny that this is true, as it is clearly spelled out in the Bible, Torah and Koran.

    So while we all know the real issue for same sex marriage is taxation benefits and other financial entitlements, in the minds of The People it is a respite against God and it will be a hard push for the gay lobby to go against the religious beliefs of 95% of the American population and what they believe to be true, namely that Marriage is for a man and woman and for the procreation and continuation of the species. This is GOD’s Law… it supersedes Man’s law, whether or not Man views it as right or wrong makes no difference. God has decreed it.

    This is nothing like the African American struggle at all..totally different in fact. Because being black is not a sin, not is it an abomination. God loves black white yellow and brown that makes no difference. He loves the gays too, just abhors the sexual act.

    The battle that we see is whether the Supreme Court…well aware of GOD’s Law will usurp what GOD wants, under the guise of Human Rights. Gays represent only 1%-3% of the American population, they should not be discriminated against, but at the same time they should not be able to change or pervert the beliefs of 97%-99% of the beliefs of the American population. A group I might I predict, will remain silent until the gay issue is pushed too far, at which time one will see the uproar, as the vast majority display their offense and disgust of laws, which clearly violate their religious, ethical and moral beliefs…I would further predict this will come about when same -sex education is taught or forced on their children, Gay pride parades become more sexually graphic and/or pressure is put on them to abandon their beliefs and accept the homosexual lifestyle as a valid lifestyle under threat of prison or financial loss.

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