BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF BILL C-389, AN ACT TO AMEND THE CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT AND THE CRIMINAL CODE (GENDER IDENTITY AND GENDER EXPRESSION)
17 MAY 2010
SUMMARY OF BILL C-389 AND AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S POSITION ON THE PROPOSED LAW
Bill C-389, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (Gender Identity and Gender Expression) was a private member’s bill introduced in May 2009. The bill would play an important role in protecting transgender persons from discrimination and gate crimes. The purpose of the bill was to include protections for gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act and as distinguishing characteristics protected under section 318 as well as aggravating factors listed under section 718.2 of the Criminal Code.
Amnesty International wrote a brief urging the Prime Minister and Members of Parliament from all parties to support the passage of Bill C-389. Our brief explained that the inclusion of gender identity as a category of protection within Canadian legislation is supported by Canadian and international human rights law and principles relating to non-discrimination and would ensure greater protection for a category of individuals who are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and hate crimes.
STATUS OF BILL
Bill C-389 passed in the House of Commons in 2011. However, Parliament was dissolved for an election soon after and consideration of the bill by the Senate stalled.
In 2011, the bill was re-introduced as Bill C-279. Bill C-279 also passed in the House of Commons and was sent to the Senate for study. The Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs amended Bill C-279, exempting it from applying to public spaces, including bathrooms and locker rooms. The Bill was sent back to the House of Commons for consideration. Amnesty International provided a brief in support of Bill C-279 to the Senate Committee. To read more about our work in support of Bill C-279, click here.
In May 2016, the federal government tabled Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code. A welcome development and culmination of over 11 years of efforts to secure legal protection for transgender persons in Canada, Bill C-16 enshrines equality rights of transgender individuals and protects them from hate crimes. Bill C-16 was passed and became law on 15 June 2017, a long-awaited step applauded by Amnesty International and its Trans Equality Canada Coalition partners. See Trans Equality Canada's Joint Press Release celebrating the passage of the law.
See News Release, “Amnesty International welcomes Canadian government move to protect transgender rights” (17 May 2016)
Amnesty International’s Brief in Support of Bill C-389, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression) (May 2010)
Text of Bill C-389, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (Gender Identity and Gender Expression)
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs’ Report on Bill C-279, with Amendments
Text of Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (First Reading)
"Human rights protections extended to trans people" (15 June 2017)
“Human rights groups applaud House of Commons support for transgender rights bill” (18 November 2016)
“Disappointing Senate decision exposes transgender people to threats and violence” (25 February 2015)
“Canada: Speak out in support of transgender rights!” (13 November 2014)
“Shame, Pride, and LGBTI Rights” (24 June 2014)