Toronto: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that his government will move forward with new legislation to protect the rights of transgender Canadians.
“I am proud to announce that tomorrow, on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, we will be tabling a bill in the House of Commons to ensure the full protection of transgender people,” Trudeau said on Monday in Montreal.
He also said he would be back in Montreal this summer for the city’s Pride celebrations, the first prime minister to do so. “Because we must continue to demand true equality,” he said. “We must carry on the legacy of those who fought for justice by being bold and ambitious in our actions. And we must work diligently to close the gap between our principles and our reality.”
The inclusion of gender identity in the Canadian Human Rights Act has been at least 12 years in the making.
The first bill to add gender identity was tabled by former NDP MP Bill Siksay in 2004. Siksay introduced it in 2006, 2007 and 2009 before making some progress with C-389 in 2010. That bill passed the House of Commons in 2011 by a vote of 143-135, but Parliament was dissolved for an election shortly thereafter.
NDP MP Randall Garrison picked up the proposal upon Siksay’s retirement and his bill, C-279, passed the House in 2013 by a vote of 149-137, with 18 Conservative MPs joining New Democrats and Liberals to support the bill. But C-279 then stalled in the Senate.
Both C-389 and C-279 were targeted by opponents as “bathroom bills,” with some suggesting that extending human rights protections to transgender people would make it easier for predators to prey on children in public washrooms.