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Ontario amends anti-discrimination code to include transgender protections

Ontario lawmakers on Wednesday unanimously approved an amendment to the province's Human Rights Code [text] that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. All three parties of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario [official website] approved Toby's Act [Bill 33], making Ontario the first province to acknowledge the rights of transgender people. The passing of the amendment was welcomed by transgender individuals who waited outside of the legislature. They argue that they have been discriminated based on their gender identify in employment and other areas. The deputy leader of the Opposition Progressive Conservatives [advocacy website] Christine Elliott stated that now that the amendment is passed, everyone in Ontario will have the same legal protections.

Anti-discrimination laws for transgender individuals are not widely accepted, but there has been an increasing awareness of the group's need for protection. In April, the US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Title VII [text] employment discrimination protections extend to transgender individuals. The ruling came after the Transgender Law Center (TLC) [advocacy website] filed a complaint on behalf of Mia Macy, a transgender woman who was denied a job as a ballistics technician at the Walnut Creek, California laboratory of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. In March, The US Supreme Court [official website] denied certiorari [JURIST report] in Fields v. Smith [opinion, PDF], allowing a lower court decision that transgender hormone therapy is a medically necessary procedure to stand. The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] found [JURIST report] the Inmate Sex-Change Prevention Act (Act 105), a 2005 Wisconsin law, was unconstitutional under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. On the other hand, in December of last year, the UK announced [JURIST report] the UK's first ever government action plan promoting transgender equality. It found that transgender-related hate crime between 2009 and 2010 rose by 14 percent but only two EU member states address the problem. Massachusetts passed [JURIST report] a bill in November that will protect transgender people in housing, credit and the workplace, as well as including them under hate crime protections.

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