Canada: Bill criminalising anti-transgender discrimination passes in House of Commons

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A bill criminalising discrimination against transgender people has passed in Canada’s House of Commons, having gained crucial support from a small number of Conservative MPs.

On Wednesday the Commons voted 149-137 to pass the bill, which would classify violence against trans people as a hate crime.

16 of the votes in favour came from the Conservative party, which holds the majority of seats in the Commons.

The majority of Conservatives voted against the bill, including Party leader and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Some, such as Conservative MP Rob Anders, argued that the bill had the potential to allow for sexual predation to occur in bathrooms.

Mr Anders spoke to the Commons of the need to “protect and safeguard our children from any exposure and harm that would come from giving a man access to women’s public washroom facilities.”

His fellow Conservative MP Michelle Rempel disagreed, saying “Both sides of this debate should agree that equality and protection against harm are two fundamental values that all Canadians of any gender, any age, any background are entitled to.”

New Democrat Party member Randall Garrison, who sponsored the bill, said after it passed: “Today New Democrats are proud to have contributed to ensuring equal protection under the law from discrimination and hatred based on gender identity.

“Transgender and transsexual citizens are among the most marginalized and are too often victims of harassment and acts of violence.”

Among the MPs to vote for the bill was Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who last year criticised the human rights record of Uganda, and was subsequently called ignorant and arrogant by Ugandan Parliamentary Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.

The bill will now go to a Senate vote, which it is expected to pass.