i’ve seen a lot of posts on my dash about how the trans bathroom selfies are a shitty movement because of their emphasis on passing, which is true! but i haven’t seen much talk about WHY everyone is doing it, and that’s extremely important.
basically there’s this bill, bill c-279, that has been moving through the canadian government for (what feels like) 50000 years. the bill is trying to add ‘gender identity’ to the canadian human rights act and criminal code, so that people could be protected from discrimination and hate crime targeting gender identity. the bill passed it’s second house reading in 2013 (with pm harper and many other conservatives voting against it, surprise surprise) and moved on to the senate, where it’s been ever since because of the summer recess and harper’s prorogation. the bill has been stalled for so long that if you google news search it, you’ll find that most of the articles are about how it’s been amended or sent back to the house of commons or being stalled again. so you can understand that trans canadians are very frustrated right now!
the latest set of problems is that senator plett has added an amendment that would basically bar trans people from entering any kind of public gendered space - washrooms, changing rooms, locker rooms, women’s shelters, corrections facilities, etc. and plett is specifically targeting trans women in this. the bill will affect all trans people, but it’s trans women he pointed out as the problem in his speech.
plett said that the amendment would protect the “most vulnerable women” by prohibiting “biological males” from entering female facilities. he went on to imply that trans women are “pedophiles” and simply masquerading as women.
when the amendment was first introduced, the sponsor of the bill mp garrison said “it does look like the death of the bill…I think the amendments were designed to provide additional delay to defeat the bill.” it’s possible that parliament will be dissolved for the summer without ever having dealt with the bill at all.
the amendment passed (6-4). just 4 days ago, plett bumped back debate on another amendment to the bill that would basically remove his amendment. justin ling of vice news says on his twitter that “he can keep bumping back debate as long as he likes, ensuring the bill dies on the floor”. with summer approaching quickly and a federal election in the fall, it looks like the 2 years spent on this bill were for nothing. another trans rights bill would have to be introduced by the new set of politicians in october. says garrison, “I’ll have to get re-elected to reintroduce it again.”
can you tell me who's the most LGBT friendly and progressive party?
incidentally, it’s pride here in ottawa this weekend. good timing. :)
the NDP has a reasonably coherent lgbt policy. highlights include a pledge to end discrimination against lgbt refugee applicants; end lgbt discrimination in the legal system; and investing in programs for lgbt crisis relief (i want to be absolutely clear that when i use this phrase i mean “lgbt folks struggling to survive”; i know so-called “rehab” centres can be called ‘crisis centres’ and i am NOT referring to those). my usual criticism of NDP platform statements is that they’re not specific enough, but this isn’t bad, though there are not nearly enough specifics when it comes to rights for trans folks. still, they show a pretty decent understanding of the nuances of the needs of lgb persons and groups.
there are seven out, confirmed lgbt ndp candidates running for seats this election. the two MPs who currently share the duty of lgbt policy critic in the NDP opposition, dany morin and randall garrison, are both openly gay. the NDP has been the first party to have an lgbt critic in the shadow cabinet, and they are the only party with a commission specifically concerned with lgbt policy and politics.
historically, NDP’s been good for lgbt policy too. tommy douglas was the first to call for the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1967. libby davies, svend robinson, and bill siksay are examples of former NDP MPs who made pretty great strides for lgbt rights in canada. robinson, apart from being publicly vocal about the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, sponsored the inclusion of hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation under protection of canada’s federal legislation in 2004 after advocating for it since 1983. siksay repeatedly introduced Bill 389, “to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression,” until it was passed in 2009-2010. davies repeatedly introduced discussion of lgbt issues as part and parcel of her MP duties.
but, to reiterate, policies that cater specifically to trans and gender variant people are still largely lacking in ndp initiatives. among the gaps that still need to be covered for trans folks include laws against employment discrimination; provision of affordable shelter; increased crisis relief and outreach; the removal of barriers to changing birth certificate, passport, and driver’s licence inaccuracies; insurance coverage for therapy (if desired), hormones (if desired), and surgical procedures (if desired); better provision of health care in general; increased access to services; and so on. here is a petition from transequalitynow on what governments need to start providing to trans folks in canada. i do not have firsthand experience of the barriers encountered by trans folks in canada and welcome asks pointing out areas where all politicians must improve.
the green party have made several clear promises about how they will provide for lgbt folks:
Green Party MPs will:
-Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to explicitly include gender identity and gender expression as protected grounds of discrimination;
-Amend the Criminal Code to include gender identity and gender expression in the hate sentencing and hate propaganda provisions;
-Repeal s.159 of the Criminal Code [that stipulates age of consent for anal sex is 18 on grounds of “corruption of the youth”];
-Support public education to end prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity;
-End the targeting by Canada Customs of LGBTQ+ bookstores and other LGBTQ+ businesses;
-Ensure Canada advocates internationally for an end to state-sanctioned discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ people. [x]
so, very similar to ndp priorities, but less is explicit with the greens than it was with the ndp. this may be because of ndp’s committee devoted entirely to lgbt policy. i thought it would be interesting to see a point by point comparison of npd versus green promises, so here’s a handy chart:
ndp and green may support other policies that are just not explicitly listed on the party webpages, so listen carefully to debates and statements as the campaigning goes on for issues that matter to you.
liberals: historically they’ve been good for lgbt rights, too. pierre trudeau tabled the bill to decriminalize homosexual acts in 1967 (enabled by Tommy Douglas, an NDPer) and passed it in 1969. he also removed homosexuals from the list of inadmissible immigrants in 1978. jean cretien passed protections on the grounds of sexual orientation in the Canadian Human Rights Act in 1995-96 (the motion originated with the conservatives in 1992-1993, though). chretien also modernized the definition of common law partnership to approximately equal the rights of marriage after one year of cohabitation for same-sex couples in 1999. paul martin more or less enabled same-sex marriage to be legalized in 2004-05. these aren’t small victories. the liberals have historically been instrumental in advancing gay rights in canada.
however, these days they’re being a little quieter about advancements in lgbt policy. it’s not that justin trudeau is against gay rights; he’s well known for being broadly in support of lgbt rights. it’s more that googling “justin trudeau gay rights” comes up with really alarmist pro-life websites deploring that his support of gay rights goes against his catholic upbringing. he’s being quiet enough about it that it is not the top result when searching for his name + the policy in question.
there are and have been many gay liberal MPs. i think the best way to summarize liberal support of lgbt policy is that they’re inclined toward policy that most affects lgbt members of the middle class. that matters! i’m not trying to deplore the advances liberals have made, or the fact that the party is likely to support lgbt bills that are introduced to the house. but lgbt poverty is unlikely to be much addressed by trudeau’s liberals, and i’ll be surprised if they table many lgbt rights bills themselves.
the conservatives are famously uncharitable toward lgbt folks, but they haven’t done nothing. mulroney repealed the ban on gay and trans folks in the military by mulroney in 1992, and kim campbell made a genuine effort to include protections on the grounds of sexual orientation in the Canadian Human Rights Act in 1992-1993 before she was unceremoniously shuffled out of office. but they’re, unsurprisingly, historically the least supportive party of lgbt rights.
i won’t belabour the point on how the conservatives have worked against lgbt folks. suffice to say that after same sex marriage was legalized by supreme court decision in 2005, stephen harper, then opposition leader, said, “same-sex marriage is not a human right,” and that “when elected Prime Minister […] I will bring in legislation that will define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” and then…
On the first day of the 2006 federal election campaign, the Conservative leader promised to put the Charter rights of gay Canadians to a free vote in Parliament. Harper’s position had been that civil unions would be a suitable substitute – “separate but equal,” you know – but the fact remains that just a simple majority could have been the beginning of the end of marriage equality.
The Conservatives won the election. The vote happened. But the majority of MPs had already moved on.
Stephen Harper soon did the same; the most the Prime Minister has since said on the subject is that he does not plan to say anything at all. “We have no intention of further opening or reopening this issue,” he said last year. [x]
all this doesn’t mean there aren’t gay candidates. scott brison was a conservative MP at the time that he fought quite publicly with other conservative candidates about their opposition to same-sex marriage. he’s no backbencher either; he was a contender for the leader of the Progressive Conservatives before they merged with Alliance in 2004. however, he ultimately crossed the floor to the liberals and became the first openly gay cabinet minister under paul martin, so that might say something about how great he felt being gay and conservative.
in conclusion, ndp and green have the most coherent lgbt policies; bloc supports lgbt motions as a matter of policy; liberals are pro-lgbt but have significantly less coherent policies; and the conservatives offer the least to lgbt constituents.