Transgender bill ‘isn’t necessary,’ concedes Canadian Human Rights Commission
OTTAWA, Ontario, 5 December, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A high ranking representative from the Canadian Human Rights Commission (HRC) told the Canadian Justice Committee last week that a private member’s bill that would afford special federal protection to so-called ‘transgender’ men and women “strictly speaking…isn’t necessary”.
The HRC representative said that “the commission, the tribunal, and the courts view gender identity and gender expression as protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act [CHRA].”
The comment was made by Ian Fine, acting secretary general, secretary general’s office, Canadian Human Rights Commission during the 53rd meeting for Justice and Human Rights last Tuesday.
Bill C-279, sponsored by NDP LGBTT Critic Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC), would include “gender identity” and “gender expression” in the hate crimes sections of the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.
Garrison has argued that the bill is necessary to protect the rights of people who identify themselves as transgendered or transexual.
But Susheel Gupta, acting chairperson and chief executive officer of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal confirmed his colleague’s statement during the same meeting that people who say they are transgender are already protected under Canada’s Human Rights Act.
Gupta noted that the Human Rights Tribunal has been presented with a total of four cases that dealt with “gender identity or gender expression” where it had to adjudicate.
“In all of them, the tribunal found that discrimination on these grounds fell within the prohibited grounds protected by the CHRA,” he said.
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Gupta pointed out that the Tribunal had set a precedent in Montreuil v. the Canadian Forces in 2009 when it ruled that there is “no dispute that discrimination on the basis of Transsexualism constitutes ‘sex’ discrimination as well as discrimination on the basis of a disability.”
Members of the Justice Committee were puzzled by what was to be gained by adding “gender identity and gender expression” to the code if ‘transgender’ men and women were already protected from discrimination based on ‘sex’ and ‘disability’.
Conservative MP Rober Goguen (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB) suggested that the HRC’s admission indicates that Bill-279 is “purely symbolic”.
“The cases clearly indicate that protection is already afforded,” he said.
Fine, responding to Goguen, admitted that “strictly speaking, I suppose the legislation isn’t necessary…”.
Despite admitting that people who say they are transgender are already protected from discrimination, the HRC would nevertheless like to see gender identity and gender expression added to the CHRA and Criminal Code.
Fine said that adding special federal protection to trans-groups “would be a recognition of the discrimination that this group faces”.
Critics have warned that the bill promote the notion that ‘gender’ is a fluid social construct that can be separated from one’s biological birth sex.
The controversial bill has been dubbed the “bathroom bill” by critics who say it would give men who pretend to be transgender a legal alibi to use women’s bathrooms, shower rooms, and changing rooms. They worry this will lead to an increase in sexual assaults.
Last month 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 in September when they saw ‘Colleen’ Francis exposing male genitalia through the glass window in a sauna.