Premier Christy Clark joins Justice Minister Suzanne Anton

Transgender rights ‘must be seen’

B.C. Liberals Laurie Throness and Marvin Hunt disagree as Premier Christy Clark reverses position on Human Rights Code

The B.C. government has passed amendments to its Human Rights Code to specify protection for “gender identity and expression,” a reversal by the B.C. Liberals after years of saying transgendered people are already protected against discrimination.

Premier Christy Clark and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton staged a group photo with MLAs and transgender advocates before the legislation was introduced Monday. Vancouver-West End NDP MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert, who has advocated the change for the past five years, said the government has finally relented.

“The minister has to admit that what we were saying all along was correct, that in order to have your rights protected, you need to know you have rights,” Chandra-Herbert said. “You need to see your rights in the Human Rights Code.”

Anton said the changes don’t provide additional protection against unfair treatment when seeking a job or an apartment, but meetings with transgendered people convinced her to add gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination.

“They have been legally protected, but they have not felt protected,” Anton said. “So it’s extremely important for a community that is vulnerable that they know they’re protected, that they know government is behind them.”

Two Liberal MLAs criticized the change, but did not vote against it. Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness said “gender identity and expression” has been legally recognized as part of “sexual orientation” in the code, along with race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital or family status, sex, age and criminal conviction unrelated to employment.

“I would point out that this has not been done for any other group,” Throness said. “One might specify certain races or religions or ethnicities. I can think of many disabilities, say of developmental delay, or perhaps impairment of sight or hearing or some other impairment, who must experience discrimination as well.”

Throness said he does not accept that “gender is fluid,” but rather is “fixed” and a product of biology. He added that the change is “not about protection as much as it is about the programs that will flow from this special recognition.”

Surrey-Panorama MLA Marvin Hunt cited rulings that found transgendered people are protected against sex discrimination.

“Transgender people are clearly included in the B.C. Human Rights Code,” Hunt said. “Now, the Jews aren’t mentioned in the code, but they are also covered.”

NDP MLA Selina Robinson said Throness’ comments “sounded like he felt the government got bullied by the LGBTQ community.” The Vancouver Pride Society refused to allow Premier Christy Clark to walk in their parade last year unless she supported Chandra-Herbert’s amendment.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Agricultural Land Commission approves cannabis facility in Beaver Creek

Proposed facility outside Port Alberni had been caught up in ALR red tape

Alberni writer and poet to read at Words on Fire

Chelsea Comeau has her own freelance writing and editing business

North Island College hosting nursing info session

Info sessions will take place Monday, Jan. 27 at Port Alberni and Campbell River campuses

Photographer captures Port Alberni personalities in black and white portraits

Meet John Douglas, Courtney Naesgaard in double exhibit Jan. 18 at Rollin Art Centre

Alberni Valley Community Foundation opens grant application process for 2020

Nearly $30K available for Port Alberni-based charities

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

Nanaimo mom will celebrate 40th in style after $500,000 lotto win

Crystal Giesbrecht matches all four numbers on BC/49 Extra

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

Most Read