OTTAWA, Ontario, April 17, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A private members bill was recently debated in parliament that aims at giving what its sponsor calls “specific protections” to “transsexual and transgendered Canadians.”
Bill C-279 (formerly Bill C-389) sponsored by NDP MP Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC) is a proposition to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include “gender identity” and “gender expression” as prohibited grounds of discrimination.
“I firmly believe that the bill would help complete what we might call Canada’s human rights project,” said Garrison, NDP’s LGBTT Critic (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Transexual) during parliamentary debate of the bill on April 5th.
The controversial private members bill, dubbed by critics as the “bathroom bill” because it would likely allow men who say they are women to use women’s washrooms, passed the House of Commons in February 2011, but died when the 2011 election was called.
Garrison argued for the necessity of bill C-279, saying that “gender identity and gender expression rights are not expressly protected in Canada.”
Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice) counter-argued that the proposed amendments were “unnecessary” pointing out that “transsexuals are already protected by our federal human rights law … by the existing ground of ‘sex’.”
Discrimination is currently prohibited in Canada on the grounds of “race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted.”
“The point of the prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act is not to identify particular groups,” Findlay argued. “For example, the act does not mention men and women but the broader ground of sex. It does not list Christianity, Judaism, Islam or other specific religions but simply includes the ground of religion. The act contains the ground of ethnic origin but again does not list out specific minority groups. The act is structured in this way to treat all Canadians equally and fairly and to avoid singling out for recognition specific manifestations of a given characteristic.
“This bill departs from that approach,” she said.
Conservative MP Dean Allison (Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON) blasted the proposed bill, arguing that “Canadian society recognizes that there are gender norms.”
“When attitudes and practices involving gender become sex discrimination, the law should and does intervene. However, the law cannot simply abolish gender categories and gender norms in Canadian society. Nor can tribunals and courts be asked to reconstruct and interpret gender norms. That is an unrealistic view of what the legal system is empowered and entrusted to do.”
Allison argued that the wording of the proposed bill is so “vague” that ensuing litigation would force the courts to “reconstruct Canadian gender norms for us.”
Allison also expressed what he called a “very real concern” that “creating a right to gender identity and gender expression would likely result in men who are in gender reassignment therapy having access to girls’ bathrooms.”
“As the bill would also give special rights to those who simply consider themselves to be transgendered, the door would be open to sexual predators having a legal defence to charges of being caught in a women’s washroom or locker room.”
“As sexual predators are statistically almost always men, imagine the trauma that a young girl would face, going into a washroom or a change room at a public pool and finding a man there. It is unconscionable for any legislator, purposefully or just neglectfully, to place her in such a compromising position.”
“The bill is an unfocused and unpredictable response to the very particular challenges that are faced by transsexual persons,” Allison concluded.
The bill had narrowly passed the House of Commons in February 2011 before the election call by a vote of 143-135, with the Conservatives opposing and the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc supporting.
Numerous religious and pro-family organizations oppose the bill, including the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, Campaign Life Coalition, REAL Women of Canada, and the Canada Family Action Coalition.
Critics warn that the bill furthers the sexual revolution’s ideology that gender is a purely fluid social construct that can be completely separated from one’s biological birth sex.
The bill is expected to return to the House for a second debate and vote about the middle of May.
Find contact information for every Member of Parliament here.