BY KIMBERLY ROSE
With the current political climate today, the LGBTQ community continues to face discrimination in public spaces – much like the debate on where trans people should use the bathroom. We’re trying to make progress, but in the U.S. and the current administration, it’s particularly hard when so many communities feel vulnerable. Canada, though, is taking an extra step in extending rights and protections for transgender people in particular.
“I am proud to announce that tomorrow, on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, we will be tabling a bill in the House of Commons to ensure the full protection of transgender people,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at an award ceremony honoring his efforts to fight both homophobia and transphobia, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Not many details were released regarding the new law, but Bill C-16 will reportedly update Canada’s Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. It will also change the criminal code to extend protection against hate speech – hopefully setting an international precedent for the protection of trans persons. The Canadian Senate passed the bill by a 67-11 vote and Randy Boissonnault, a member of Canada’s Parliament and special advisor to Trudeau on LGBTQ issues, referred to the bill as “a critical extension of human rights.” It is expected that C-16 will become a law after it passes royal assent – and then transgender Canadian persons will be protected at provincial and federal levels in the country.
In terms of the impact the law will have, law professor Kyle Kirkup, of the University of Ottawa, called the legislation “practical” and “symbolic.” While it can create hiccups or necessary changes in institutions like the criminal justice system and its policies regarding transgender inmates, it will, more importantly, recognize the difficulties that transgender persons experience on the daily from discrimination, violence, and harassment. And the Canadian government is doing what it can to change that.
The U.S. is still facing the cultural battle, but Canada can serve as a role model to how all communities should be respected and protected. After all, everyone is deserving of living a truthful and loving life.