December 13, 2010

OTTAWA — A private member’s bill that would add “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code has pro-family groups and individuals on high alert.

Douglas Farrow, a professor of Christian Thought at McGill University, wrote a letter to all MPs Dec. 1 warning that NDP MP Bill Siksay’s Bill C-389 left terms like “gender identity” and “gender expression” deliberately undefined and therefore subjective.

“The subjective realm may be important, but it is not one into which the law should readily venture; once venturing, it is likely to find no logical stopping point,” Farrow argued.

“Additions to the list of prohibited grounds or protected categories can only grow longer and longer, until the whole idea of such laws becomes meaningless.”

Farrow also warned the bill would “entrench in Canadian law the notion that sex and/or gender are basically social constructs, products of a series of human choices, based not on the natural order but in more or less arbitrary acts of interpretation.”

The “social constructivist principle” is “at odds with the beliefs and assumptions” of the majority of Canadians, he said, and Parliament has no mandate to entrench it.

Farrow warned of “disruptive consequences” should the bill pass, particularly on religious freedom and conscience rights for physicians and surgeons, or others who may be compelled to provide services or employment, and economic consequences of compliance such as providing unisex bathrooms or other facilities.

REAL Women of Canada national vice president Gwen Landolt said passage of the bill would affect every federal agency from the RCMP to the military.

The bill, introduced last May, was passed on a second reading vote last June — record speed for a private member’s bill — and passed through committee with no amendments.