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BC takes steps to improve Transgender rights

Last Updated Jul 20, 2016 at 2:54 pm PST

(Sonia Aslam, NEWS 1130 staff photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – In a sudden policy reversal, the BC Liberals are now choosing to specifically include Transgender people in the province’s Human Rights Code. The move comes just over a week before Vancouver’s Pride Parade.

The law was initially going to go through next spring, but remember there’s a provincial election in May, so it’s happening now.

The idea was brought forward several times by the NDP and the last time it was, Justice Minister Suzanne Anton essentially said it wasn’t needed because Transgender people are protected under current legislation. So, why the change of heart?

“Transgender persons are protected now, but it’s the knowledge of that protection which is important and that is what is lacking and it has not been crystal clear in their mind that they are protected.”

She adds the amendment to the code will include “gender identity or expression” among its protected grounds. “They have not all known that and community organizations have not always well understood that and that is why the importance of putting it plain and simple into the Human Rights Code, as I said, it’s a relatively easy change, and so we are making that change.”

The opposition supports the law and says it’ll take the victory, albeit a little late. “It’s better that it passes now [and] that we get it into our Human Rights Code and I think it’s a great thing. I think the timing is great, in terms of being able to show loud and proud that the Opposition and the government have united to support Transgender human rights,” says NDP MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert, who introduced several private members bills in the past for Transgender people.

Vancouver’s Pride Parade is on July 31st and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in attendance, but Premier Christy Clark won’t — Anton says she’ll be taking part in festivities in Kelowna.