Human Rights Code Amendment passed unanimously

Rainbow flag file photo

VICTORIA, B.C. – Calling it, “A significant day for human rights in our province,” Attorney-General and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton introduced Bill 27, in the BC legislature yesterday, and, The Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2016, was then passed unanimously.

By adding the grounds for protection explicitly, the government moved away from its previous position, that all individuals are equal under the law, so no changes to the code were required.

The minister says she decided to act after many meetings with people from the LGBTQ community, and according to NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, that has finally put BC in line with other provinces’ human rights legislation for transgender people in Canada.

He had introduced the bill, which will include gender identity or expression among the protected grounds in B.C.’s Human Rights Code, five times, before it finally won approval yesterday.

Previously, transgender individuals were protected under the code’s protected grounds of “sex”, as interpreted by the BC Human Rights Tribunal and the courts, but both the Tribunal and the Trans Alliance Society hailed the changes to the code.

The latter contends it will help prevent accidental human rights violations caused by the lack of awareness it addresses, help educate future generations to prevent anti-trans sentiment, and inform and guide organizations shaping inclusion policies

The Tribunal Chair has issued a statement saying it recognizes, “gender identity or expression, captures some of the most marginalized individuals and groups in the province and the amendment clearly communicates that discrimination on that basis is prohibited”.