TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 9, 2011) - As Private Members' Bill C-389, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression), is put to third and final reading today, the Ontario Federation of Labour is calling on all members of parliament to vote in favour of the bill to protect the rights of trans-identified Canadians.
"This bill is about extending human rights to some of the most vulnerable among us," said Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). "Denying the rights of some has never protected our society and has always undermined our integrity. It is past time that we extend human rights and criminal code protections to trans-identified people."
The Canadian Human Rights Act and federal hate crimes laws do not explicitly protect people from discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Bill C-389, proposed by NDP MP Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas, B.C.), seeks to correct that by amending legislation to include gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination and adding crimes motivated by transphobia to the list of crimes treated as potential hate crimes.
"How many assaults, how many suicides will be enough to make us take action? One is too many," said Ryan. "It is a national shame that trans-identified people have been allowed to experience discrimination and harassment for this long."
A recent American study showed that 41 per cent of trans-identified people had attempted suicide compared to 1.6 per cent of the general population. Nearly 20 per cent reported being refused housing and experiencing homelessness. They also reported double the national rate of unemployment and are four times more likely to live in extreme poverty.
"The only opposition that I've heard against this Bill are the same ignorant and alarmist statements that we always hear from those who oppose minority rights. There is absolutely no evidence linking gender identity to any criminal activity," said Ryan. "Those who continue to make such blatantly false assertions continue to blind us to the real dangers in our communities and provide the best proof why this law is so desperately needed. Together, we can put an end to bigotry, hatred and discrimination."
The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 Ontario unions and over one million members.