Gender Expression and Identity in PEI Human Rights Code

According to the CBC, the PEI Human Rights Commission is re-writing the code to identify explicit rights for gender expression and identity.

Commission chair Anne Nicholson said people who are transgendered are already protected under the code, but this addition would mean their rights would be fully acknowledged, and it could encourage people to step forward when there are issues.

“People can see that their rights are included in our human rights code, and when that’s the case people are more likely to come forward with a complaint,” said Nicholson.

“Otherwise, they are really feeling vulnerable and to go in to look for help for a human rights violation, then they may feel they’ll be rejected on the basis of it’s not in our code and we may not offer protection.”

The commission has been working with the province for a couple of years get gender identity added to the rights regarding sex discrimination. Nicholson hopes to have the addition made to the human rights code when the legislature sits in the fall.

Ontario already has gender identity included in their provincial code, and other provinces are moving in this direction.

Federally, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity), was put forward by the NDP member from Esquimalt–Juan de Fuca, British Columbia, Randall Garrison. It would ensure that gender identity rights have the force of the Criminal Code behind them. Currently, this bill is in Senate committee.

I think it is important to note that these initiatives are moving forward with very little public dissent and controversy.This is the result of that “slippery slope” we have heard so much about. Now that rights for women, people of colour, gays, and the mentally ill have been included in both Human Rights and Criminal Code legislation, it becomes more difficult to justify excluding the rights of others. “Slippery Slope” does seem an odd way of describing forward motion.

It is just as important to note that actual equality has not been attained for any of the groups identified in these codes and legislation. Discrimination in employment, housing, education, and in the enforcement of other laws continues, and is usually impossible to identify in any specific case. We still have a long way to go.

Laws are much easier to change than attitudes.

The text of the Federal Bill as it stands now:

CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
1. Section 2 of the Canadian Human Rights Act is replaced by the following:
Purpose
2. (1) The purpose of this Act is to extend the laws in Canada to give effect, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, to the principle that all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.
Definition of “gender identity”
(2) In this section, “gender identity” means, in respect of an individual, the individual’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex that the individual was assigned at birth.
2. (1) Subsection 3(1) of the Act is replaced by the following:
Prohibited grounds of discrimination
3. (1) For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted or in respect of which a record suspension has been ordered.
(2) Section 3 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):
Definition of “gender identity”
(3) In this section, “gender identity” has the same meaning as in subsection 2(2).
R.S., c. C-46
CRIMINAL CODE
3. Subsection 318(4) of the Criminal Code is replaced by the following:
Definitions
(4) The following definitions apply in this section.
“gender identity”
“gender identity” means, in respect of a person, the person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex that the person was assigned at birth.
“identifiable group”
“identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin, gender identity or sexual orientation.
4. (1) Subparagraph 718.2(a)(i) of the Act is replaced by the following:
(i) evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor,
(2) Section 718.2 of the Act is renumbered as subsection 718.2(1) and is amended by adding the following:
Definition of “gender identity”
(2) In this section, “gender identity” has the same meaning as in subsection 318(4).

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One Response to Gender Expression and Identity in PEI Human Rights Code

  1. What about workplace dress codes? Dress codes do not generally contravene The Code. If an employer, however, without reasonable cause, requires all employees to wear a standard sex-specific uniform, it may result in discrimination against employees who are adversely affected by this policy based on their gender identity and who do not have a uniform option of comparable comfort and dignity to that of other staff. An alternative approach might be to allow for more individual expression of gender within a broader range of uniform options.

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