House of Commons Passes Transgender Rights Bill

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(Via Identity Photogr@phy/Flickr)

In a surprise move, the House of Commons passed a bill this week making it illegal to discriminate against transgender Canadians.

Supported by 18 members of the Conservative party, including four cabinet ministers, the private member’s bill was adopted by a vote of 149-137.

Bill C-279, sponsored by New Democrat Randall Garrison, amends the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to expressly forbid discrimination based on gender identity.

In a statement made after the vote, Garrison said:

Today, New Democrats are proud to have contributed to ensuring equal protection under the law from discrimination and hatred based on gender identity. Transgender and transsexual citizens are among the most marginalized and are too often victims of harassment and acts of violence.

Canada, which has some of the strongest gay rights laws in the Americas, officially legalized gay marriage in 2005. Four of the country’s five national political parties all support LGBT rights, and the ruling Conservative party has members who also support gay rights.

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper opposed the bill.