British Columbia

B.C. Human Rights Code insufficient, says LGBTQ2 activist

The very fact that people are questioning whether the B.C. Human Rights Code adequately protects transgender people should be reason enough for the government to revisit the issue, says one queer feminist lawyer.

'We don't have effective rights,' says queer feminist lawyer barbara findlay

The 37th annual Vancouver Pride Parade happens August 2. ((Belle Puri/CBC))

The very fact that people are questioning whether the B.C. Human Rights Code adequately protects transgender people should be reason enough for the government to revisit the issue, says one queer feminist lawyer.

Debate over the issue has heated up after the Vancouver Pride Society barred the B.C. Liberals Party from participating in this year's pride parade because the B.C. Liberals have refused to sign a pledge supporting transgender equality legislation.

The pledge calls on government to write a specific provision for transgender and gender-variant people into the B.C. Human Rights Code.

The B.C. Liberals say that would be redundant.

Government says code is 'crystal clear'

In a statement to CBC News, Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said:

"The issue of gender identity and the Human Rights Code of B.C. is crystal clear. Every individual - regardless of whether they are transgender, transsexual, gay, bisexual, heterosexual - is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection. The Human Rights Code is interpreted to include transgender persons and covers the rights of transgender persons."

But it isn't crystal clear, and that's the problem, said barbara findlay in an interview with On the Coast host Stephen Quinn.

Legally speaking, the code does include transgender and gender-variant people. Functionally speaking, however, few people, transgender and otherwise, know that those protections exist, said findlay (who does not use capital letters to spell her name.)

"Unless people know it's there, it's not effective. We don't have effective rights," said findlay.

"It's basically protection in the closet."

A 'simple legislative change'

Though findlay admits this push to explicitly include transgender rights could lead people to believe that gender identity is not in fact already protected, she says this an opportunity to clarify the issue once and for all.

"It's a really simple legislative change. They can tack it onto an omnibus bill. 

"If they're correct that it makes no difference, then why not do it for the educational effect that we know that it will have?

"It's entirely possible that this government would not want to be seen to be taking a legislative move that would benefit trans people. They might see that as a political liability."

To hear the full interview with barbara findlay, listen to the audio labelled: barbara findlay on the Vancouver Pride Parade controversy.


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