British Columbia

Transgender community goes face-to-face with pastor opposing parts of Bill C-16

Advocates of a federal bill that makes it illegal to discriminate against gender identity showed up on the doorstep of a New Westminster church to debate Pastor Paul who has led a campaign that opposes sections of Bill C-16.

Paul Dirks doesn't want transgender people to share showers, bathrooms, locker rooms

Pastor Paul Dirks, right, sits opposite a protester. He argues his opposition to parts of Bill C-16, which would make it illegal in Canada to discriminate against gender identity and expression. (CBC)

Advocates of a federal bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against gender identity showed up on the doorstep of a New Westminster church to debate a pastor who has led a campaign that opposes sections of Bill C-16.

The bill, currently before parliament, would amend the Human Rights Act — making it illegal to discriminate against gender identity and expression.

The bill includes housing and employment equity, but Pastor Paul Dirks is worried Bill C-16 will make people vulnerable if all genders are allowed to use the same showers, locker rooms, rape shelters and camp cabins.

Watch as Dirks is confronted by protesters:

Dirks has led campaign against parts of the gender equality bill that he says will make some people vulnerable. 0:45

"My position is there are all sorts of women who need to feel protected," he said Sunday as he faced-off with protesters across the street from his New West Community Church at 322 Hospital Street.

"Our campaign doesn't say trans-people are a risk to anybody, it's saying predators are going to take advantage."

Candice Boer was one of around a dozen people who argued with Pastor Paul Dirks about his opposition to parts of Bill C-16. (CBC)

Protesters Candice Boer said many have been waiting their whole lives for something like Bill C-16.

"I want to be counted as one person who is opposing hatred," said Boer, who attended the protest.

Pastor Paul Dirks was prepared to sit down with protesters on Sunday, March 5, 2017, but they refused to cross the street to sit with him. He went over to where they were gathered. (CBC)

Dirks, who — as part of the campaign — put up posters in Vancouver's West End with the message, 'woman means something,' staunchly defended his position on Sunday despite more than a dozen protesters.

Anglican priest Laurel Dykstra, who has trangender people in her congregation, said Bill C-16 needs support.

Anglican minister Laurel Dykstra says Bill C-16 is legislation transgender people — some of who make up her congregation — deserve. (CBC)

"I think that Bill C-16 absolutely guarantees rights that people need and deserve and I am honoured to be here to speak and to stand for trans-rights," she said.

As for Dirks, she believes he is distorting faith and religion with his campaign.

with files from Deborah Goble.