Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday announced legislation to protect transgender people from hate speech and discrimination, as debate rages in the US over laws restricting their rights.
“Even today, despite all the obstacles we have overcome, the battles we have won and the victories we have celebrated, we are still witnesses, and in some cases, victims of injustices,” Trudeau said in a speech at a Montreal event hosted by gay rights group Fondation Emergence.
“We must continue to demand true equality,” he said. “We must carry on the legacy of those who fought for justice by being bold and ambitious in our actions.”
The bill was to be officially unveiled by Canadian Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould yesterday, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
It is to add “gender identity” alongside race, religion, age, sex and sexual orientation as prohibited grounds for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and add transgender persons to a list of groups protected from hate-mongering under the Criminal Code, according to Wilson-Raybould’s mandate letter from Trudeau.
The Canadian parliament’s previous attempts to pass similar legislation failed. However, this time, due to a Liberal majority in the Canadian House of Commons, the measures are expected to pass easily.
Following his speech, Fondation Emergence honored him with an award for his promotion of gay rights, including allowing sexually active gay men to donate blood, and pardoning gay men who were convicted of gross indecency before homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969.
A debate on equal rights in the US has been raging over a flurry of initiatives targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities since a historic US Supreme Court decision last year legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
Last week, the US federal government and North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt launched dueling lawsuits over a state law restricting transgender Americans’ use of public restrooms.
The North Carolina law, passed on March 23, requires transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding to the gender listed on their birth certificate.
It provoked a public outcry and led several high-profile entertainers and big companies to join activists in denouncing the measure, pulling the plug on events and investments in the state.
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