(OTTAWA, ON) – Yesterday, after Canada’s Senate voted to pass Bill C-16, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs was quick to praise the passage. Amends resulting from the passage include gender identity and expression, the hate crime sections of the Criminal Code, and as a prohibited ground for discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The Centre has been formally active in transgender matters. It holds a seat at the Executive Committee of Trans Equality Canada.
CIJA Chair David J. Cape called members of the transgender community in Canada, “… an indivisible part of our communities and our country. Like any at-risk minority, transgender Canadians deserve the full protection of the law, especially since hate crimes against transgender people tend to be physically aggressive.”
Tom Chervinsky, Chair of CIJA’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Council sees the bill as very important to all Canadians and the situation of transgender people, those who are transitioning to a gender other than their birth gender, is well understood by Jewish people.
Chervinsky, himself both Jewish and a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Trans, and Queer community added, “Jewish Canadians know firsthand how important it is for minorities to be protected from hate.”
The inclusion in the Criminal Code is not simply window dressing.
The CIJA believes it will increase the likelihood that police or crown attorneys will correctly identify a criminal act as hate or bias-motivated.
Since Bill C-16 was introduced in May 2016, British Columbia and Quebec have already passed legislation amending their respective human rights codes to explicitly protect gender identity and/or gender expression, joining Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the Northwest Territories.
Transgender individuals face high rates of violence in Canada and around the world. In Ontario, the Trans Pulse Project found that 20% of transgender people had been physically or sexually assaulted as a result of their gender identity or expression, and a further 34% had been verbally threatened or harassed.