Transgender changes to B.C. Human Rights Code pass unanimously

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Matt Lee

Transgender changes to B.C. Human Rights Code pass unanimously

Lost in the talk of a tax on foreign buyers in Victoria was that legislation passed to explicitly protect gender identity and expression in the B.C. Human Rights Code.

It’s something NDP MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert had been lobbying for years: Protecting transgender people in BC’s Human Rights Code by law, and on paper.

Bill 27 passed unanimously.

Previously, transgender individuals were protected under the code’s protected grounds of “sex”, as interpreted by the BC Human Rights Tribunal and the courts.

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NDP MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert introduced the bill five times before it finally passed.

“Fifth time’s a charm. I never thought I’d say that, but darn it feels good to finally get something I’ve been fighting for a long time approved in law. And even better that transgender people will now be able to see them themselves in our human rights code.”

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While Chandra-Herbert says he’s disappointed it took so long to make the changes, the world has changed and legislators recognized it.

“The time was right to act for human rights and I couldn’t be happier. I wish it happened the first time I moved the legislation five years ago, but sometimes it takes people time to realize they’ve got to get on board in terms of supporting peoples’ human rights.”

He says now B.C. is aligning its code with other legislation across Canada.