The Canadian Senate [official website] on Friday approved Bill C-16 [materials], adding “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the list of federally prohibited grounds for discrimination under Canada’s Human Rights Act. In an official statement [press release] from the Justice Department of Canada [official website] the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould, said:
The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that everyone can live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose. It will protect people from discrimination, hate propaganda and hate crimes. Once it receives Royal Assent, the legislation will add the grounds of gender identity and gender expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. Gender identity and gender expression would become prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the updates to the Criminal Code would protect trans and gender diverse Canadians who are targeted because of their gender identity or expression from hate propaganda. These changes would also require a court to treat the commission of an offence that is motivated by hate based on gender identity or expression as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.
C-16 was introduced in its current form in May after the Senate took seven months [CTVNews report] to study and debate the language and provisions of the bill. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised [Twitter post] the bill’s passage in Tweet stating, “Great news: Bill C-16 has passed the Senate – making it illegal to discriminate based on gender identity or expression. #LoveisLove.”
Many human rights organizations have called on countries throughout the world to address violence against women and LGBTQI individuals. Earlier in June Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, presented a report [JURIST report] to the UN Human Rights Council [official website] calling for governments to do more to reduce violence against women and LGBTQI individuals. In May Human Rights Watch reported [JURIST report] on the violence against gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. In March UNICEF called [JURIST report] on the protection of women and children on the Mediterranean route. Also in March a UN rights expert called [JURIST report] on Australia to combat violence against women. In November another UN rights expert called [JURIST report] for the end of violence and discrimination against LGBTI individuals.