Ontario Human Rights Code amended to protect transgendered people
TheStar.com – news/Canada/politics
Published On Wed Jun 13 2012. Robert Benzie, Queen’s Park Bureau Chief
Susan Gupka knows first-hand what it’s like to be discriminated against.
The transgendered Torontonian has had difficulty applying for credit cards, student loans, identification cards, and accessing health care, employment and housing.
So Wednesday’s vote by MPPs to enshrine “gender identity” and “gender expression” in the Ontario Human Rights Code is a landmark moment.
“I feel like we’ve pushed an elephant and we’ve been successful,” Gupka said, moments after the legislature passed the bill on a voice vote.
“I’m thrilled that all parties came. What we’ve learned in the last month or so is that together we can deliver on trans-human rights.”
The human rights code, the 50th anniversary of which is Friday, is now expanded beyond just prohibiting prejudice based on “race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability.”
It took NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo (Parkdale-High Park) six years and four attempts to get the amendment passed.
“I am so proud to be an Ontarian, so proud to be a Canadian,” said DiNovo, who praised Progressive Conservative MPP Christine Elliott (Whitby-Oshawa) and Liberal MPP Yasir Naqvi (Ottawa Centre) for co-sponsoring her bill.
The legislation is known as Toby’s Act in memory of the late musician Toby Dancer, who led the gospel choir at Emmanuel Howard Park United Church, where DiNovo was a minister.
“This is a historic moment for trans people across North America,” said the NDP MPP.
“Ontario has become the first jurisdiction in North America — other than the Northwest Territories — to enact protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression,” she said.
“The passage of Toby’s Act is another reason to celebrate at Pride.”
As more than a dozen transgendered Ontarians watched from the visitor’s gallery, Elliott told the legislature that the time had come to extend human rights code protection to everyone.
For his part, Naqvi said it was especially fulfilling to work with political rivals for the greater good.
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