Montreal

Justin Trudeau announces transgender rights legislation: 'We can and should do more'

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in Montreal federal legislation about to be tabled which will guarantee legal and human rights protection to transgender people.

Trudeau receives Laurent McCutcheon Award for continued support of LGBT community

The bill aimed at safeguarding transgender Canadians will be tabled in the House of Commons on May 17, the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in Montreal federal legislation about to be tabled, which will guarantee legal and human rights protection to transgender people across Canada.

"We have worked too hard for us to stop here," Trudeau said. "Too hard to stop with the progress we have made because I sincerely believe that in Canada we can and we should do more."

Trudeau made the announcement after he received the Laurent McCutcheon Award, named after the pioneer in the fight against homophobia who served as president of the Montreal hotline Gai Écoute from 1982 until 2013.

The award highlights Trudeau's continued support for lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual individuals in Quebec and across Canada.

"I believe in a Canada where men can give blood, regardless of their sexual orientation," Trudeau said. "Where transgender people are protected by the law."

"A Canada where all prime ministers are proud to walk with the LGBT community during gay pride parades."
The prime minister made the announcement in Montreal Monday 0:53

The bill aimed at safeguarding transgender Canadians is to be tabled in the House of Commons on May 17, the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

"We must carry on the legacy of those who fought for justice by being bold and ambitious in our actions," Trudeau said. "And we must work diligently to close the gap between our principles and reality."

The details of the proposed legislation have not yet been revealed.

Last week, a spokesperson for federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould hinted "legislation will be coming forward very shortly".

In his mandate letter, Trudeau asked Wilson-Raybould to make it a priority to introduce legislation "to add gender identity as a prohibited ground for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and to the list of distinguishing characteristics of 'identifiable group' protected by the hate speech provisions of the Criminal Code."

'An important message'

The details of the proposed legislation will only be unveiled Tuesday, but some say the bill is already a step in the right direction for transgender rights and fighting discrimination.

"There are many people who still deny that transgender people even exist or would rather not see us at all," Marni Panas, an Edmonton-based consultant and social advocate. 

"And when you have a government clearly stating that transgender people are not only protected in Canada but it says we are welcome here and that we belong here, that's an important message."

In the past, similar legislation was defeated in the Senate after being proposed in the House of Commons.

With files from Susana Mas