Our View: New law is simple respect

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The best thing about this week’s updates to the B.C. Human Rights Code is how little uproar there has been.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton announced the legislation that will explicitly protect transgender persons from discrimination.

One member of the Liberals dissented and abstained from the vote. There were some kind words said by members of the transgender community. And that was about it. No storm of protest, though there will no doubt be a few letters to the editor across the province.

Despite the lack of drama, the legislation was necessary. NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert has been pushing for the change from within the Legislature for years, while activists pushed from without.

The government held back largely on the grounds that transgender individuals were already covered implicitly by existing rules.

But the new rules ensure that there is no doubt that everyone in B.C. should enjoy the same rights and privileges and the same treatment.

The legislation was necessary both for its own sake – to clarify protections – and as a statement about the direction of our society.

In the past 20 years we have seen a dramatic change in rights in this country, primarily for the LGBTQ community. Those changes have been accompanied by a great deal of political debate and public protest.

More importantly, they have come with changed viewpoints. Politicians who opposed gay marriage or recognition of transgender rights have changed their minds, as have many members of the general public.

As Pride Week kicks off in B.C., there is much left to do, but much that has been accomplished.

– M.C.