Toronto – March 5, 2014 – As it stands right now, only a few Canadian provinces protect gender identity. While Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and the Northwest Territories explicitly protect gender identity from discrimination within their human rights legislation, other provinces do not.
In response to this problem, Bill C-279, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code of Canada (Gender Identity), has been introduced in Parliament to protect the gender identity of all Canadians. The bill would criminalize those who commit gender identity hate crimes, and ensure that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is outlawed. First introduced as a private member's bill by NDP MP Randall Garrison and now being considered by the Senate, the bill is mere steps away from becoming law.
Bill C-279 is badly needed because the transgender community in Canada faces a disproportionate percentage of abuses and human rights violations compared to the rest of the LGBT community. This makes transgender Canadians particularly vulnerable to physical and psychological abuse and trauma. For example, 77 percent of transgender individuals in Ontario report having considered suicide, and 43 percent have attempted suicide at least once.
According to UFCW Canada’s national partner, EGALE Canada, the transgender community also faces rampant discrimination in the workplace and persistent harassment from police.
UFCW Canada has therefore signed an open letter to members of Canada’s Senate in support of Bill C-279. Spearheaded by a number of non-profit organizations, including Amnesty International, the letter calls on Senators to take a stand for equality and speak out against the lack of human rights protection for transgender individuals by enacting Bill C-279 without delay.
"There are too many individuals dying because of hatred in our society, and it is downright shameful that we do not have an explicit legislative framework across Canada that can ensure justice for our transgender community," says Paul Meinema, UFCW Canada National President. "That's why UFCW Canada and our social justice allies are calling on the Senate to pass Bill-C279 and fully protect the human rights of all people in Canada," Brother Meinema adds.