Breaking: ‘Gender identity’ bill passes House of Commons in 149-137 vote

The vote was largely on party lines but was only able to pass because of support from Conservative members, including cabinet ministers such as Jim Flaherty, John Baird, and Lisa Raitt.
Wed Mar 20, 2013 - 7:24 pm EST

OTTAWA, March 20, 2013 ( – Canada’s House of Commons voted 149 to 137 on Wednesday evening to pass an NDP-backed bill that would add “gender identity” to the Canadian Human Rights Act. The bill now heads to the Senate.

The vote was largely on party lines, with the Conservatives opposing and the NDP, Liberals, Bloc, and Green parties supporting it. But, notably, was only able to pass with the support of 18 Conservative members, including cabinet ministers Jim Flaherty, John Baird, James Moore, and Lisa Raitt.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper voted against the bill.

A previous version of the bill, which would have also added “gender expression” to the act, had passed the House in 2011 but died in the Senate when the 2011 federal election was called.

The bill has been controversial, with critics arguing that the bill would effectively abolish the distinction between male and female under Canadian law.

Some have also dubbed it the “bathroom bill” by claiming that it could give biological men a legal alibi to use women’s bathrooms, shower rooms, and changing rooms. They worry that such a bill will lead to an increase in sexual assaults.

Last November a college in Washington state decided it would not prevent a 45-year-old man who presents himself as a transgender “female” from lounging naked in a women’s locker room, in an area frequented by girls as young as six. Teenage girls on a high school swim team were using the facilities last September when they saw "Colleen" Francis exposing male genitalia through the glass window in a sauna.

Despite the left wing push for the bill in the name of "rights and equality," high ranking representatives from the Canadian Human Rights Commission (HRC) told the Canadian Justice Committee in December that the bill “strictly speaking…isn’t necessary”.

HRC representative Ian Fine told the committee that “the commission, the tribunal, and the courts view gender identity and gender expression as protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act [CHRA].”

Conservative MPs have said that the bill is redundant since transgender individuals already enjoy Human Rights protection, because "sex" is already a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Campaign Life Coalition had predicted that if the bill passes in the House it will sail through the Senate as well.

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