Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

May 17, 2016 10:23 ET

Government Moves to Strengthen Laws Against Discrimination Based on Gender Identity and Expression

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 17, 2016) - Department of Justice Canada

Diversity and inclusion are among Canada's greatest strengths; Canadians must feel safe in their identities, and free to be themselves. That is why the Government of Canada is updating the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to include gender identity and gender expression.

Today, on International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced legislation that will help ensure transgender and other gender-diverse people can live according to their gender identity.

The objectives of the Bill are to recognize and reduce the vulnerability of trans and other gender-diverse persons to discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crimes, and to affirm their equal status in Canadian society.

Minister Wilson-Raybould introduced the legislation in the House of Commons, then joined members and advocates of the transgender community to announce the legislation.

If the legislation is passed, gender identity and gender expression will become prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). Hate propaganda offences in the Criminal Code will be expanded to protect identifiable groups who are targeted for their gender identity or expression. The Criminal Code will be amended to clarify that where someone commits a crime motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or gender expression, a judge must consider that as an aggravating factor in deciding what sentence to impose.

Quote

"In Canada, we celebrate inclusion and diversity. All Canadians should be safe to be themselves. The law should be clear and explicit: transgender and other gender-diverse persons have a right to live free from discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crime. We are committed to making Canada stronger by ensuring Canadian laws reflect the rich diversity of our people."

Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

Quick Facts

  • Gender identity is each person's internal and individual experience of gender. It is their sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum. Gender expression is how a person publicly presents their gender. This can include behaviour and outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language and voice.
  • Transgender persons face high levels of discrimination and crime. A survey conducted by Trans Pulse Project in 2010 showed that out of the 500 transgender respondents in Ontario, 13% had been fired and 18% were refused employment based on their transgender status. Twenty percent of respondents had been physically or sexually assaulted, but not all of these assaults were reported to police.

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Backgrounder - Gender Identity and Gender Expression

Questions and Answers - Gender Identity and Gender Expression

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Gender Identity and Gender Expression – Department of Justice

Backgrounder

Gender Identity and Gender Expression

Gender identity is each person's internal and individual experience of gender. It is their sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum. A person's gender identity may be the same as or different from the gender typically associated with their sex assigned at birth. For some persons, their gender identity is different from the gender typically associated with their sex assigned at birth; this is often described as transgender or simply trans. Gender identity is fundamentally different from a person's sexual orientation.

Gender expression is how a person publicly presents their gender. This can include behaviour and outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language and voice. A person's chosen name and pronoun are also common ways of expressing gender.

There are a variety of individual experiences of gender and of gender expression. The terms "gender identity" and "gender expression" include a wide range of gender diversity.

Transgender people routinely experience discrimination, harassment and even violence because their gender identity or expression is different from those typically associated with their sex assigned at birth. A survey conducted by Trans Pulse Project in 2010 showed that, out of the 500 transgender respondents in Ontario, 13% had been fired and 18% were refused employment based on their transgender status. Twenty percent of respondents had been physically or sexually assaulted, but not all of these assaults were reported to police.

Updates to the Canadian Human Right Act

The Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) prohibits discrimination in federally-regulated employment and the provision of goods, services, facilities and accommodation on the grounds of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered. Adding "gender identity or expression" to the list of grounds would make it very clear that transgender and other gender diverse persons have protection in the law.

Updates to the Criminal Code

The Criminal Code prohibits hate propaganda against an "identifiable group," which is currently defined to be a section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or mental or physical disability. Adding "gender identity or expression" would extend protection against hate propaganda to transgender and other gender diverse persons.

The Criminal Code also provides that a judge, when sentencing someone for having committed an offence, must consider any relevant aggravating circumstances, including if the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or "any other similar factor". While this phrase is broad enough to include gender identity or expression, an amendment would confirm the protection for transgender and other gender diverse persons.

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Contact Information

  • Joanne Ghiz
    Minister of Justice Spokesperson
    Office of the Minister of Justice
    613-992-4621

    Media Relations
    Department of Justice
    613-957-4207