Members of LGBTory met recently with representatives of Toronto’s trans community to develop advocacy strategies relating to issues of concern to trans Canadians. In a very productive meeting we discussed amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Code relating to gender identity and gender expression, and talked about how we can assist in lobbying for legislation to make these changes.
The meeting was held on April 13 2016 at the 519 Church St Community Centre, a City of Toronto agency devoted to the “health, happiness and full participation of the LGBTQ community.” Participating were Jack Hixson-Volpe, author of Creating Authentic Spaces: A Gender Identity and Gender Expression Toolkit, and Julie Hamara and Danielle Araya, co-ordinators of the 519’s Trans Youth Mentorship Program. They met with Doc von Lichtenberg and Todd Langis of LGBTory Canada.
In 2015 Bill C-279, a private-member’s bill sponsored by NDP MP Randall Garrison was introduced in Parliament. The bill proposed to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination. It also would have amended the Criminal Code to include gender identity as a distinguishing characteristic protected under section 318 and as an aggravating circumstance to be taken into consideration under section 718.2 at the time of sentencing. The bill passed Third Reading in the House of Commons but was held up in the Senate by Conservative Senators over proposed amendments to the bill regarding access to public washrooms and changerooms. Progress of the bill was halted when Parliament was dissolved prior to the 2015 federal election.
In 2012 the Province of Ontario passed legislation amending the Ontario Human Rights Code to outlaw discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. The legislation passed with broad support from all parties. Based on our consultations with members of the trans community, we believe that Ontario’s successful legislation should be a model for similar amendments at the federal level to the Canadian Human Rights Code. The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s policy on gender identity & gender expression is a successful model that should be implemented by the federal government.
LGBTory agreed to offer our assistance in advocating to legislators and policy-makers in the Conservative Party of Canada, and to work with the trans community to push for this legislation when it is re-introduced in Parliament.
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VP – Communications