Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Comment on Bill C-279 Amending CCC, CHRA inclusion of Gender Identity and Expression

On Wednesday the House of Commons will vote for a third time on Bill C-279 . The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and the Criminal Code of Canada (CCC) to include the words, gender identity and gender expression. If it passes then it will be illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of gender expression and identity; and it adds this wording  to cover in CCC section 318 "Hate Propaganda" (4) identifiable groups; and section 718.2 CCC on sentencing.

The effect is to protect Trans people from discrimination and hate crimes. If you read the purpose of the CHRA, the amendment is in keeping with the Acts stated purpose. The changes made to the CCC are reasonable as they merely reflect the changes being made to the CHRA.

There is nothing novel in expanding Human rights coverage to Trans people. Since the Acts inception in 1977 it has been altered to prevent discrimination on the basis of Sexuality, amended to include hate communication (recently that was repealed, C-304 also know as "Protecting Freedom"). It was also changed to include First Nations people. I am of the opinion that a Human Rights Act should be as expansive as is necessary to ensure Canadian citizens are as free from discrimination as we can manage.

Great news! As I write this commentary C-279 has passed third reading by a vote of 149-137 and is off to the Senate. My congratulations to the bill's sponsor NDP Randall Garrison. I noticed my MP Rick Dykstra voted nay on second reading, I hope he changed his mind this time around.

This Bill has received some opposition from the likes of the Campaign For Life, a small anti -choice group. Canada Family Action, which should not surprise anyone who reads the Section called "what we stand for",

Canada Family Action Coalition has a vision to see Christian principles applied in Canadian law, politics and society.

Christian principles applied to Canadian Law, I don't blame you for the shiver you just felt after reading that. The Bill to expand Human rights coverage to Trans people has Gained the moniker "the Bathroom Bill from its opponents. The opposition has come at C-279 in two ways an appeal to reason and a panicked shortness of breath. The first and only attempt at reasonable discourse is the suggestion that the new terms are "undefined" and would task Judges to interpret the law, Conservatives religious or otherwise are not happy with Judges interpreting law. I'm not sure exactly how you might misinterpret Gender Identity and Expression. It seems clear Identity being what gender you feel you are and expression being how you show that in your outward appearance. 

They are also concerned over potential "costs" associated with this Bill, additional bathrooms, human rights complaints( these people are not fans of the Tribunals); increased Heath care spending; and violations of the CCC . But these are really a throw away points like when  MPs Warawa andWoodworth  talk about supporting women's rights or science to promote back door anti-choice motions like motions 408 and 312. Their intention is to end Reproductive Choice.

The bread and butter points for this group of religious conservatives, (self described), are the children, women but not so much men. Children might be taught about tolerance or shudder,  understanding and acceptance of trans people. We don't want to confuse children, but I see the confusion arising perhaps from being taught one thing at home and another in school or the wider world. 

All arguments resolve into the meaning behind  the appellation "Bathroom Bill" attached to this amendment by those in opposition. If this Bill passes, women and children, will face assaults in bathrooms and showers across Canada. A  Mr. McVety considers the bill "a danger to our children". He describes a situation, 

If gender identity is enshrined in the Criminal Code of Canada, any male at any time will be permitted in girls bathrooms, showers and change rooms as long as they have an innate feeling of being female,” said McVety. “If I then try to stop such a man from showering with my little girl at the local pool I could be in breach of the Criminal Code of Canada and could face imprisonment.” 

It is quite clear what Mr. McVety thinks of Trans people. We all want to be safe, Children, Women and Men. It is beyond intolerable to conflate Trans people with sexual predators. A low point in political discourse. These are the same people that wished to deny rights to the LGBT community, like protection against discrimination; ability to adopt, marriage rights. This subset of christian believers "knows" what is right and good and true; everything that doesn't meet with that definition must be opposed and the chief tool in opposition is fear; of sexual abuse, societal breakdown and perversion. They fight against expanding rights to the LGBTQ now, but before that came opposition to minority rights, before that and still sadly Women's rights. All change seems apocalyptic. 

They are part of a larger group that understands change brings loss of place and privilege for the formerly dominate people. When you extend equal rights to cover more people or circumstances you don't diminish the rights the dominate group but you do effect their ability to discriminate and so marginalize. This inevitably leads to a transfer of some  power and opportunity to the formerly disenfranchised groups. They won't stop fighting and hopefully won't stop losing.

UPDATE: I just checked the Voting on C-279, my MP, Rick Dykstra Vote Nay on amending the CHRA and CCC to include Gender Expression and Gender Identity. 


  1. Replies
    1. Bill C-279 will give legal protection to people that suffer discrimination. It is hard to find anything scary in that.

  2. how is giving people the same basic rights that you"baylee" already have scary?