BC soon to add gender identity to Human Rights Code

Equality news out of Canada from yesterday:

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.

In Canada-speak, "tabling an amendment" means "bring it to the table."

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.


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.

Over the past several weeks and months, I have met with transgender individuals and advocates who have passionately expressed the desire to see protection currently afforded within the definition of ‘sex’ made more explicit by recognizing ‘gender identity and gender expression’ expressly in B.C.’s Human Rights Code.

I am proud to announce that we will be introducing legislation to amend B.C.’s Human Rights Code to include ‘gender identity or expression’ among the protected grounds covered by the code

--AG Anton

Liberal plans had been to raise the amendment next year, but the party is accelerating its program.

It has been a long road but we’re getting there. 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.

--MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, NDP sponsor of the bill

In order to be protected by the human rights code you have to know you are. This legislation will ensure that it’s crystal clear that discrimination against someone because of their gender identity or gender expression is unacceptable in B.C.

--Chandra Herbert

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.

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.

--Drew Dennis, TransFocus Consulting

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’s a key fundamental piece that will help inform other areas under the province’s jurisdiction.


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.

A week ago Vancouver adopted a new policy supporting transgender residents which included the introduction of gender neutral bathrooms and sensitivity training.

The new policy comes a year after Mayor Gregor Robertson called for transgender residents to have equal rights under Canadian law and to have safe access to city space and events.

0 users have voted.


SnappleBC's picture

Although, I was going to add that it's nice living in the 21st century but if that were true, we wouldn't be having this conversation at all.

0 users have voted.

A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard

BC is known in Canada for being very different. Even the conservatives are different.

0 users have voted.
MarilynW's picture

that they are doing something for the people of BC. Well that's a good thing. Meanwhile they are destroying the environment of the province with fracking. LNG plants, Site C Dam on the Peace River, deforestation, there's more. We hope to get rid of them next year.

0 users have voted.

To thine own self be true.