B.C. Human Rights Code to include explicit protection for gender identity, expression
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton introduced legislation Monday to make B.C.’s Human Rights Code more explicit in the protections it affords transgender persons in British Columbia.
Bill 27, Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2016, was passed to include “gender identity or expression” among the protected grounds covered by the code. Prior to the change, transgender individuals were protected under the code’s protected grounds of “sex”, as interpreted by B.C.’s Human Rights Tribunal and the courts.
By adding the grounds for protection explicitly, the amendments bring greater clarity and consistency across Canada as B.C. aligns its code with human-rights legislation across the country, including Canada’s proposed bill to add “gender identity or expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act.
“This is a significant day for human rights in our province,” said Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice. “For those citizens often more vulnerable to discrimination, and to all those around them, these changes help make clear that all British Columbians are protected under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, no matter their gender identity or expression.”
Anton went to praise those who lobbied for the changes.
“I want to acknowledge the efforts of those who advocated for these amendments. We have heard you and we stand with you in saying that all British Columbians deserve not only to be protected from discrimination by law, but to know that they are protected, without a doubt.”
Diana Juricevic, tribunal chair, B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, concurred.
“The tribunal recognizes that “gender identity or expression” captures some of the most marginalized individuals and groups in British Columbia,” Juricevic said. “The tribunal welcomes this amendment to the Human Rights Code. It clearly communicates that discrimination on the basis of “gender identity or expression” is prohibited and that the tribunal’s remedial process is available.”