LGBTQ advocates applaud the federal government for passing Bill C-16

It’s another giant step for members of the LGBTQ community as the House of Commons passed Bill C-16, amending the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.

It also proposes to amend the Criminal Code to add gender identity or expression to the definition of “identifiable group” for the purpose of the hate propaganda offences and to the list of aggravating circumstances for hate-crime sentencing.

“All Canadians should feel safe to be themselves. Our strength as a nation lies in our diversity and our inclusiveness. It is our responsibility to recognize and reduce the vulnerability of trans and other gender-diverse persons to discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crimes, and to affirm their equal status in Canadian society,” said Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould in a statement Friday.

University of Alberta’s Faculty Director of the Institute of Sexual Minority Studies and Services Dr. Kristopher Wells says the move is long overdue.

“It’s a very important and historic day to see the House of Commons finally pass Bill C-16, providing protections for transgender and gender diverse Canadians in all federal government services,” says Wells.

“Given some of the concern and rhetoric coming out of the United States these days post-election, this is another important sign and step forward for Canada’s leadership role in the world to unequivocally protect and support human rights for some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

The previous government had tried to pass something similar but it ended up dying on the order paper when it stalled in the Senate.

Wells says they hope the Canadian Senate will take swift action on this, some of the provinces have taken giant steps in this direction while they’re still waiting for others to act.

“It’s very, very important, it makes a symbolic difference, it says we see you, we value you as members of Canadian society who are deserving of equal treatment under the law and makes it a crime to espouse hate.”

Wilson-Raybould says she is looking forward to working with the Senate as it continues its way through Parliament.

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