Transgender human rights bill passes, with Liberal dissent

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British Columbia's Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon delivers the Throne Speech in the B.C. Legislature, in Victoria on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016.
 

VICTORIA — A new law to protect transgender rights in B.C.’s Human Rights Code passed into law Monday, despite opposition from at least one of the governing party’s own MLAs.

Laurie Throness, the Liberal MLA for Chilliwack-Hope, said his religious beliefs prevented him from supporting legislation to specifically enshrine protection for transgender people in the human rights law. He said he believes in a fixed-gender, which is decided at birth, and described the LGBTQ community as a powerful lobby group intolerant of himself and others who disagree that the law would add necessary protections.

Though its rare for a Liberal MLA to criticize his own government’s legislation, Throness did not go so far as to vote against the bill. Instead, he abstained from voting at all. The bill passed unanimously.

The legislation was fast-tracked through the house in one day, during a special summer session of the legislature.

Attorney General Suzanne Anton said the legal change was necessary because many transgender people had clearly told government they did not feel the human rights code adequately protected them under the law.

Vancouver West End NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert said he was pleased that governing B.C. Liberal Party finally enacted the legal change after several years of not enacting his private members’ bills on the subject.

rshaw@postmedia.com

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