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Transgender rights bill set to be law after clearing Senate

Senator Grant Mitchell sponsored Bill C-16 in the Senate.

June 15, 2017 — A bill that establishes real, concrete protections in Canadian law for transgender and gender-diverse people is set to become law after being adopted in the Senate today.

Transgender rights advocates celebrate in Sen. Mitchell’s office after Bill C-16 is adopted at third reading in the Senate on June 15, 2017. (Photo: Greg Kolz)

Bill C-16, sponsored by Senator Grant Mitchell, amends the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to:

  • Make it explicitly discriminatory to disadvantage people because of their gender identity or expression in any workplace, in hiring and promoting, and in the provision of goods, services, facilities and accommodation.
  • Protect gender identity and expression from hate propaganda, and adds those terms to the list of aggravating circumstances for hate-crime sentencing.

The legislation also acts as an important symbol of inclusion and acceptance for a group of Canadians who have been disproportionately targeted with discrimination and hate crimes.

This bill is not only about the protections it provides, but also the message that Parliament is delivering to all Canadians about the need to treat everybody equally.

The substance of Bill C-16 has been debated in Parliament for more than a decade. It has been supported three times by majority votes in the House of Commons, and it has been the subject of lengthy committee hearings with dozens of witnesses in the House of Commons and the Senate. Previous versions of the bill died on the order paper without coming to a final vote in the Senate.

Bill C-16 will become law after receiving Royal Assent.

“This bill is not only about the protections it provides, but also the message that Parliament is delivering to all Canadians about the need to treat everybody equally,” said Sen. Mitchell. “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.”

Timeline

  • May 17, 2016: Bill C-16 introduced in the House of Commons.
  • Nov. 18, 2016: Bill C-16 passed by the House of Commons.
  • Nov. 22, 2016: Bill C-16 introduced in the Senate.
  • June 15, 2017: Bill C-16 adopted in the Senate.

Transgender rights bill set to be law after clearing Senate

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