Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 21, 2010
Transgender bill near final approval
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - A bill to protect transsexual Canadians from hate and discrimination could have an adverse impact on religious freedom if it passes says a legal expert.
NDP MP Bill Siksay's private member's bill C-389 adds "gender identity" and "gender expression" to the identifiable groups in the Criminal Code.
"It's an open avenue for difficulties with the Catholic Church and other faiths," said REAL Women of Canada national vice president Gwen Landolt, a former Crown prosecutor and an expert on religious freedom issues.
Though private member's bills rarely even get debated, Siksay's bill has rocketed through the House of Commons at unusual speed. On June 8, after its second hour of debate, it passed second reading and has gone to committee.
Landolt said the vagueness of the terms "gender identity" and "gender expression" have implications for society.
"Because someone believes they belong to another sex doesn't mean that they do," she said. "Surgery doesn't change the DNA."
On May 10, Siksay told the House the actions proposed in his bill are overdue. "The bill is about explicitly ensuring full human rights protection in areas of federal jurisdiction for transgender and transsexual Canadians."
Only two MPs, both from the Conservative Party, expressed opposition to the bill, largely on grounds that the terms are too vague, and the bill is redundant because legal protection already exists through human rights legislation for transsexual and transgendered Canadians.
For Landolt, the vagueness confers too much power on the state to determine social constructs like gender at the expense of biological realities like one's sex.
"It's an example of homosexual activists pushing to the extreme, making demands culturally, socially and legally, yet those who have a religious belief are not given any equal rights, they have to be subjugated to the idea," she said.
Even without the bill, several human rights cases have exposed some of the problems that gender identity can pose.
In Ontario, the owner of a gym for women faced a discrimination complaint from a man in the process of a sex change, who wanted to take out a membership, even though he still had male genitalia.
A plastic surgeon faced the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal for refusing to perform a labiaplasty on a man who had undergone a sex change operation.
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