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

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Snow expected to hit West Kootenay passes overnight on Thursday

Up to 15 cm of snow could fall on Highway 3 between Paulson summit to Kootenay Pass by Friday morning

Former Grand Forks fire chief suing city for wrongful dismissal

Dale Heriot was fired in July 2019 after his department was investigated for safety, bullying issues

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary seeks online feedback on transit, housing

Surveys on the RDKB’s website are asking for input to help plan for the future

School District 51 staff iron out plan for return to classrooms

Teachers are looking for a comprehensive health and safety plan to be in place before June 1

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

Most Read