Bill C-16: Affirming transgender and gender-diverse rights
This legislation enshrines concrete protections in Canadian law for transgender and other gender-diverse people.
Canada is an open and inclusive society with rights and protections based on values of diversity, acceptance and understanding. Yet transgender Canadians still face an extreme level of exclusion, discrimination and violence. Bill C-16 was designed by the federal government to enshrine real, concrete protections in Canadian law for transgender and other gender-diverse people — and in doing so send a powerful message that Canadians are free to be themselves without fear.
The Senate’s Role
The substance of the legislation had been debated in Parliament for more than a decade before Bill C-16 arrived in the Senate in November 2016. Previous versions of the bill had been supported three times by majority votes in the House of Commons, and were the subject of lengthy committee hearings with dozens of witnesses in the House of Commons and the Senate. However, previous versions of the legislation never made it to a final vote in the Senate. Senator Grant Mitchell, who sponsored Bill C-16 in the Senate, called on his colleagues to adopt the legislation without any amendments.
“Bill C-16 will change the lives of trans people and their families,” Senator Mitchell said in a speech in the Upper Chamber on May 30, 2017. “It will extend to them significant protections against losing their jobs, being evicted from the places they live or being refused a place to live, protections against economic discrimination, and brutal, ongoing, soul-destroying verbal and physical abuse and violence.”
Bill C-16 became law in June 2017, after being adopted in the Senate in a vote of 67-11, with three abstentions. “Transgender and gender-diverse people deserve to know that they are welcome and accepted, embraced and protected, and that in Canada they are free to be their true selves,” Senator Mitchell said.