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Canada enshrines transgender rights

NDP MP Randall Garrison, sponsor of Bill C-279
NDP MP Randall Garrison, sponsor of Bill C-279

The Canadian House of Commons has approved a bill that makes it illegal to discriminate against transgender persons.

The legislation, C-279, An act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, was introduced as a private member’s bill by New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Randall Garrison and passed by a vote of 149-137. Typically, MPs are allowed to cast conscience votes on private member’s bills, which rarely become law.

All members of the opposition Liberal, New Democratic, Bloc Québécois and Green parties voted in favour or abstained, while 18 members of the governing Conservative Party supported the legislation, including four cabinet ministers. Prime Minister Stephen Harper cast his vote against C-279.

Echoing right-wing opposition to similar legislative efforts in Arizona, Canadian Conservatives had objected to the bill on the grounds that the safety of women and children would be compromised by allowing biological males to use women’s bathrooms, despite a recommendation by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to include transgender identity in anti-discrimination and anti-hate legislation.



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