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Canada: Call on the Senate to protect transgender rights

    Monday, December 5, 2016 - 15:18

    Bill C-16, a bill protecting the rights of transgender individuals in Canada, is before the Senate right now. Senators are being flooded with messages opposing the protection of transgender people in Canadian human rights law. Your urgent action is needed to let Senators know that you support Bill C-16 swiftly passing into law.

    On November 18, the House of Commons passed Bill C-16, an important step towards enshrining the equal rights of transgender individuals in Canadian law and providing protection from hate crimes. Bill C-16 will add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. It will also add gender identity and gender expression to hate crimes sentencing provisions in the Canadian Criminal Code, providing transgender individuals with stronger protection from being deliberately targeted for acts of violence.

    Bill C-16 is now before the Senate, and Senators are being flooded with messages opposing the protection of transgender people in Canadian human rights law. Now is the time to speak up. Contact Senators to let them know that you support human rights for everyone, including transgender people, and that you support Bill C-16.

    Transgender people in Canada and around the world face extreme levels of violence and discrimination because they are transgender. In a recent nationwide survey, 74% of transgender youth reported experiencing verbal harassment in school, and 37% reported experiencing physical violence. Transgender individuals in Ontario face unemployment over three times the national rate and many more are underemployed. As a result of discrimination and bullying, the trans community faces high rates of mental health issues. Rates of depression are as high as two-thirds; 77% of transgender individuals in Ontario report having considered suicide, and 43% have attempted suicide at least once.

    Transgender rights are human rights. Act now to protect transgender rights in Canada!

    Phone Senators

    • Phone Senators. Click here for a priority list of Senators and their contact details.
    • Ask to speak to the Senator. If that is not possible, speak to the staff person who answers the phone and ask them to forward a detailed message of your call to the Senator. Follow-up with an email re-itererating your main points. If no one answers the phone, leave a voicemail.

    Here's a script you may wish to use for your call:

    • My name is __________ and I am calling from __________ to urge you to support Bill C-16 and ensure that it is voted on without further delays.
    • Canada's transgender communities have long suffered discrimination and violence, and this legislation is part of the solution to protecting their human rights.
    • I am not afraid of sharing public spaces, including bathrooms, with transgender people.
    • I am afraid that unless C-16 passes, transgender people will continue to live in fear each and every time they enter a public space.
    • Delays in passing legislation cost lives. Please do the right thing and support Bill C-16.
    • Thank you for your time.

    What else can I do?


    Bill C-16 comes after seven previous attempts to advance these reforms through private members' legislation over the past 11 years, including Bill C-279 which made it as far as the final steps in the Senate in 2015 before the federal election was called.

    Passage of Bill C-16 would pave the way for addition policy and legislation changes that will positively impact the ability of transgender individuals to claim their human rights, for example, making it easier to obtain identification documents that accurately reflect a person's gender identity.

    Since Bill C-16 was introduced in May, British Columbia and Quebec have passed legislation amending their respective human rights codes to explicitly protect transgender people from discrimination, and similar legislation is currently before the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. The human rights codes of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Northwest Territories also protect against discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and/or gender expression.

    Learn more about Amnesty International's work on LGBTI rights