British Columbia To Include Transgender Rights In Human Rights Code

British Columbia will soon explicitly recognize “gender identity and gender expression” in its Human Rights Code to better protect transgender people.

Attorney General Suzanne Anton said the BC Liberals will table the amendment in the upcoming summer legislative session, after years of lobbying by NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert and transgender advocacy groups.

“As British Columbians, we must ensure everyone in B.C., especially those most likely to face discrimination, are not only protected by the law, but feel they are protected and understand that they are protected,” said Anton.

While all people are protected from discrimination under the current Human Rights Code, Anton said not explicitly protecting gender identity and expression in the code has created a lack of understanding within the transgender community.

The Liberals had planned to make the amendment next year, Anton said, but will accelerate their plans.

“It has been a long road but we’re getting there,” said Chandra Herbert, who accompanied Anton at the announcement. “I wish it passed years ago but I’m going to take the victory now when I can get it. It’s the right thing to do. [Transgender people] know their rights are protected in law, in name and right there on paper.”

Chandra Herbert first proposed a trans right bill in British Columbia five years ago but could not get the support of government, who argued the current Human Rights Code was sufficient.

Drew Dennis, co-owner of TransFocus Consulting, applauded the move.

“It’s fantastic. B.C. had been one of four provinces that had not amended their Human Rights Code. There was a recognition we had catching up to do on a provincial level,” they said.

Dennis said the amendment will clear up any uncertainty – whether inadvertent or otherwise – for employers across B.C. and prevent situations that could end up in court now that gender identity and expression are explicitly protected.

It could also have a domino affect on other provincial government services.

“It’s a key fundamental piece that will help inform other areas under the province’s jurisdiction,” Dennis said.0

The BC Liberals were banned from participating in the Vancouver Pride Parade last year after it failed to sign organizers’ Trans Equality Now Pledge calling on legislation to support the rights of trans and gender-variant people in the code.

Since then, Anton said her meetings with advocates made it clear to her that transgender people didn’t feel they were adequately protected.

Anton said the Liberals will have a presence at Pride this year (on Sunday, July 31), as they have in past parades, but Premier Christy Clark will not attend because she’ll be away.

Clark will, however, attend the Okanagan Pride Parade in her riding of Kelowna on Aug. 13.

Originally posted at Metro News