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Canada lawmakers vote to ban transgender discrimination

Canada's House of Commons [official website] on Wednesday approved a bill [text] to outlaw discrimination against transgender individuals. The bill will go to the Senate, an unelected body, for final approval [AP report]. The bill passed the House of Commons by a vote of 149-136 with the help of 16 conservatives despite opposition from the Prime Minister. The bill amends the Canadian Human Rights Act [text, PDF] and hate propaganda section of the Criminal code [text] to include "gender identity" and "gender expression" as an improper basis for discrimination and hate speech. It is unclear whether the bill will ultimately be approved by the Senate given that the New Democratic Party (NDP) [party website], which backed the bill in the House of Commons, has no representation [Ottawa Citizen report] in the upper house of parliament.

Discrimination against LGBT individuals has been a contentious issue throughout the world. In January, the Virginia State Senate passed a bill [JURIST report] to protect state LGBT employees from discrimination. In July of last year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for an end to sexual orientation discrimination [JURIST report]. In June, a group of LGBT plaintiffs filed an appeal [JURIST report] in their suit challenging a Tennessee law that bars local governments from creating anti-discrimination laws that are stricter than those of the state. The US Senate HELP Committee held a hearing in June on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), focusing on discrimination faced by LGBT employees across the country. In 2011, the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released its first ever report [JURIST report] on the global human rights of LGBT individuals.

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