Canada: Gender Identity And Gender Expression Added to Human Rights Act
June 15, 2017 10:32 PM   Subscribe

Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada: “Our Government is very pleased that Bill C-16 was passed by the Senate today, bringing us one step closer to strengthening laws against discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crime based on gender identity and gender expression. In Canada we celebrate inclusion and diversity, and all Canadians should feel safe to be themselves. Trans and gender diverse persons must be granted equal status in Canadian society, and this Bill makes that status explicit in Canadian law.

“The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that everyone can live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose. It will protect people from discrimination, hate propaganda and hate crimes. Once it receives Royal Assent, the legislation will add the grounds of gender identity and gender expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. Gender identity and gender expression would become prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the updates to the Criminal Code would protect trans and gender diverse Canadians who are targeted because of their gender identity or expression from hate propaganda. These changes would also require a court to treat the commission of an offense that is motivated by hate based on gender identity or expression as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

“I would like to acknowledge the courage and the leadership of the trans community and their decades of effort to achieve equality. Their dedication, resilience and tireless advocacy for equal rights inspire me.

“Finally, I would like to thank Members of Parliament and the Senate for supporting this important piece of legislation. Diversity is our strength. I am proud of the steps we are taking to ensure that all Canadians are treated equally.”

Text of Bill C-16 as passed by the House of Commons (LEGISinfo)

Readings of Bill C-16 in the House and Senate (LEGISinfo)

Today, trans Canadians celebrate Bill C-16. Tomorrow, the work begins for us all. (Brenda Cossman and Ido Katri - Globe and Mail)

Canada shows leadership in advancing human rights. (John Ibbitson - Globe and Mail)

B.C. trangender rights activist on why Bill C-16 matters. (Jen St. Denis - Metronews)

I Was in the Room While Jordan Peterson and Senators Debated My Human Rights (Sophia Banks - Torontoist)

Are Jordan Peterson’s Claims About Bill C-16 Correct? (Lisa Cumming - Torontoist)

Statement by the Canadian Bar Association clearing up the misconception that Bill C-16 would impede freedom of expression. [PDF Link]
posted by Pong74LS (26 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
Glee!!! What's the deal with "Royal assent" though? Could Queen Elizabeth torpedo this?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:41 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


It's just the final step of signing a bill into law in the Westminster system. It's just a procedure. The monarch and the Governor General are both just figureheads, although the GG is required to interpret the Constitution from time to time. This process requires no interpretation.
posted by My Dad at 10:55 PM on June 15 [5 favorites]


Not really. She's our head of state but in practice her representative, the governor general, signs for the queen. S/he typically doesn't veto a bill unless very good reason. Almost never happens. I can think of one time where it did and it was News.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:58 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


Yay! This bill passed 248-40 in the House of Commons. The only party to vote against this bill was, of course, the Conservatives - 38 voted in favour and 40 against. Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose voted in favour. Current Conservative leader Andrew Scheer voted against.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 11:19 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


I was going to say Canada stop making us look bad, but... nope we're doing a fine job of it all on our own.

So instead I will say well done and bravo Canada! I hope we can soon follow your lead.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:20 PM on June 15 [6 favorites]


O Canada! You are making me so happy. And homesick for a place I've never been. Well done!
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 11:29 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


Today I learned that our local Podunk Canadian private library will be hosting a story time read by transgender person. I'm so excited to see these changes in my lifetime!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:26 AM on June 16 [8 favorites]


The only party to vote against this bill was, of course, the Conservatives - 38 voted in favour and 40 against.

It might be a tiny sign of progress that the Tories didn't whip the vote on this. Even allowing members to vote their conscience on this kind of moral issue seems like a step in the right direction?
posted by jacquilynne at 12:44 AM on June 16 [10 favorites]


The first two pages of the CBA document are amazing, powerful stuff. The last two pages are apologetic waffling about how this totally isn't going to stop TERFs TERFing and isn't Freeze Peaches wonderful, and don't worry, you'll still have free expression to call people by whatever pronouns you want or make whatever statement - explicitly including arguments for stripping trans people of rights - without fear of prosecution.

I was almost in tears by the end of page 2. By the end of page 4, I was wondering what the fuck the law was actually going to cover with regard to protection from hate propaganda, since every form of TERF propaganda is pretty much explicitly not against the law.
posted by Dysk at 1:35 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


This is great news on the eve of our Pride activities this weekend (http://www.phillygaypride.org/). I'm sure there will be some lively discussions along the lines of "wtf is wrong with the US?"

Good work Canada!
posted by james33 at 2:10 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


This is great news for trans- and gender-fluid Canadians, but on the other hand I feel like 80% of the stuff the Trudeau government does is meant for building our external brand, to get people to say "Aw, Canada is so great. Good job, guys!"
posted by My Dad at 3:27 AM on June 16 [5 favorites]


Of course the Tories couldn't whip the vote on this - C-16 is basically a clarification of rights that already exist in the Charter, and Charter freedoms are what allow the far-right wingnuts to openly be far-right wingnuts. They depend on that document so they can stand up in public and say outrageous things while looking like butter wouldn't melt in their mouth.
(Honestly, sometimes I think the only thing that saves us from ourselves is our deep, inborn suspicion of anyone who tries to tell us that their way is the One True Way - we tend to look at such folks and say: "Really? and just who do you think you are?" The rest of the world thinks we're nice, but it only comes across that way... in truth we're just a bunch of smug assholes who truly believe that nobody is any better than each one of us.)
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 4:08 AM on June 16 [3 favorites]


I hope that the transwoman who was not allowed into toronto water spa Body Blitz can now go after them legally. Dysk I haven't read the CBA report but hopefully the legislation can at least stop the terfs in situations where a transwomen is denied access to a "women only" spa.
posted by biggreenplant at 4:12 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]


Access to a public accommodation like a spa would be covered under the Ontario Human Rights Code, rather than the Federal Act. Ontario has covered Gender Identity for a few years already, so this wouldn't change the legality of the situation at Body Blitz.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:24 AM on June 16 [5 favorites]


…don't worry, you'll still have free expression to call people by whatever pronouns you want or make whatever statement - explicitly including arguments for stripping trans people of rights - without fear of prosecution.

As a queer Canadian this change is somewhat heartening, but the CBA article is confusing; on page 4 it cites that

Hate speech "also forces the group to argue for their basic humanity or social standing, as a precondition to participating in … democracy."

That seems pretty clear that such cases ("arguments about rights") could very well be examples of exposure to hatred, which is the criterion on page 3. I feel like there's vagueness that's glossed over (such as, what does "force" mean, how do you prove intersubjectivities), but on the other hand it seems to be quite essentialist, saying that if debate speech causes harm, then hate speech law is still applicable.
posted by polymodus at 4:50 AM on June 16


Jacquilynne thanks for that. Well hopefully then body blitz can be challenged via the ohrc
posted by biggreenplant at 4:52 AM on June 16


I'm hopeful that Body Blitz can continue to work with a human rights professional to come up with their own policy - policies always work better when created internally rather than imposed through challenge. My impression is that the staff behaviour stemmed from ignorance rather than maliciousness. I'm reserving judgement until they come out with their policy.

Now we are recognizing so many important rights we are entering the difficult work of having to sometimes create a hierarchy of rights. Although I would welcome any woman who identifies as woman into a woman-only space, I have no doubt that there are, distasteful as it may be, MRAs/RedPillers that would falsely claim to identify as women simply for the purpose of being disruptive.

As someone that has to deal with this kind of issue all the time at work - men that choose intimidating, creepy behaviour while maintaining plausible deniability, it is difficult to craft a policy that these boundary-pushers can't try to rules-lawyer their way out of actually complying with the spirit of the policy.

I'm so glad the legislation has passed, so proud of Canada!
posted by saucysault at 5:11 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


When i read the transphobia commentary that the spa has allowed to pile up on its facebook page I celebrate each and every time that legislation forces people to do the right thing. If I want to go to a spa with my trans friends that shouldn't be questioned.
posted by biggreenplant at 5:28 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


When i read the transphobia commentary that the spa has allowed to pile up on its facebook page I celebrate each and every time that legislation forces people to do the right thing.

Yeah. I mean, I can imagine some competing rights scenarios in which someone could advance a genuine argument in favour of some spaces being available to cis-women only, at least some of the time. But as a general rule, the people who are actually out there in the world staking that position are just assholes with no reason for their opinions other than that they are stupid enough to assume that anything they are unfamiliar with must be disgusting and/or dangerous to them.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:02 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


This is great news for trans- and gender-fluid Canadians, but on the other hand I feel like 80% of the stuff the Trudeau government does is meant for building our external brand, to get people to say "Aw, Canada is so great. Good job, guys!"
posted by My Dad at 6:27 AM on June 16 [1 favorite +] [!]


Not going through with the promised electoral reform was bullshit on the part of the Liberals.
posted by Harpocrates at 7:42 AM on June 16 [7 favorites]


I learned recently that Jordan Peterson, the creep, makes $30K / month from a Patreon site. Life is not fair.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:49 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


Yay Canada! For Americans, many states do include gender identity in non-discrimination laws, but not necessarily in all areas of life. We still definitely need a federal law to drag the south into the 21st century.
posted by AFABulous at 10:37 AM on June 16 [4 favorites]


Good lord, I just realized I wrote "private library" in my previous comment but I meant "public library!" Oops.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:05 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


I was wondering about private Canadian libraries and whether such things exist in other countries due to some Canadian librarian Bethune type of yesteryear!
posted by chapps at 12:49 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


I learned recently that Jordan Peterson, the creep, makes $30K / month from a Patreon site.

Custom rationalizations for pre-existing belief systems are a growth industry (see Breitbart et al), and Peterson is a professional apologist.
posted by sneebler at 11:22 AM on June 17


So The Rebel had their grand ole German Rally today, complete with ole Jordan Peterson, and it was trending in Canada.

2019 is going to be a rough election.
posted by Yowser at 3:46 PM on June 17


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