Alberta clarifies explicit inclusion for gender identity, gender expression
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 30, 2015 – ALBERTA
The Trans Equality Society of Alberta (TESA) is overjoyed that the province of Alberta has explicitly included the phrases “gender identity” and “gender expression” in both statutes governing human rights in Alberta.
Bill 7, the Alberta Human Rights Amendment Act, 2015 passed third reading in the legislature on December 7 with the unanimous support of all parties. The bill was granted royal assent and came into force later that week on December 11, 2015, adding “gender identity” and “gender expression” to prohibited grounds of discrimination in Alberta.
Earlier in the year, Bill 10, An Act to Amend the Alberta Bill of Rights to Protect our Children, received royal assent on March 19, 2015, adding “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the Alberta Bill of Rights.
“Only a few years ago, it was unthinkable that this would happen in Alberta before being mandated at the federal level, especially with non-partisan support,” says TESA board member Angela Reid. “The social and political climate in Alberta has undergone a massive shift. We know of community members who face losing their jobs due to anti-trans discrimination even as this bill has made its way through second and third reading. Hopefully employers will take note of the Alberta government's clear condemnation of such discrimination.”
Several members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta spoke to the importance of the bill and its impact, not only on trans and gender-diverse Albertans, but on the benefits to Alberta society as a whole. MLA for Edmonton-Rutherford Richard Feehan stated, “As we expand the rights and recognition of the reality of some people, we expand our own understanding of who we are as human beings.”
Premier Rachel Notley stated, “While we know that it would be read in by the Supreme Court of Canada anyway, it is highly symbolic not just to Albertans who need their rights protected on the basis of gender, gender identity, and gender expression, but quite frankly it is symbolic to all Albertans who care about human rights and care about the actualization of protecting critical human rights and the rights of minorities each and every day in our province.”
Official Opposition (Wildrose Party) leader and MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin Brian Jean stated, “We need to stand up for all people of Alberta. That's what our job is. We have to protect each and every one of them the same way: with passion, with vigour, and with common sense. And this is common sense.”
Progressive Conservative Party interim leader and MLA for Calgary-Hays Ric McIver stated, “Everybody in Alberta is equal. Everybody deserves to be able to live and work and find homes and get medical care without discrimination and without exception. Since we're in a place where transgender people are still experiencing that discrimination, then it just becomes obvious that the answer is to support this legislation.”
Alberta Party leader and MLA for Calgary-Elbow Greg Clark stated Bill 7 “allows individuals, all Albertans to feel protected, to feel included, and to feel truly part of our community and our society. It give allies the ability to effectively argue in favour of and advocate for their family, their friends, and their neighbours. It provides the clarity that's needed.”
Liberal Party leader and MLA for Calgary-Mountain View David Swann stated, “Fortunately we have come into a new age in understanding gender issues, gender identification and ambiguity, and the range of issues that have to do with how we identify ourselves.”
TESA is pleased to see that Dr. Swann also made efforts to include aboriginal heritage in the bill. Two-spirit indigenous identities are a unique aspect of gender diversity, with their own culture and history, and TESA supports such intersectional efforts with human rights legislation.
The Honourable Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice, who introduced Bill 7, acknowledged, “We know there needs to be more done to support trans and gender-variant people in changing awareness and sweeping aside harmful stereotypes.”
TESA notes that the upcoming deadline of March 31, 2016, for all Alberta school boards to have policies for gender-diverse youth is a critical aspect of that awareness, and would be pleased to assist any organizations requesting guidance.
TESA would also like to thank the Ministry of Justice and all MLAs who have worked hard on this bill, and shared their personal experiences.
For further information, please see:
Bill 7: Alberta Human Rights Amendment Act [status]
Bill 7: Alberta Human Rights Amendment Act [full text]
Bill 7 – Introduction [Hansard]
November 19, 2015 [afternoon] -- http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files%5Cdocs%5Chansards%5Chan%5Clegislature_29%5Csession_1%5C20151119_1330_01_han.pdf
Bill 7 – Second Reading [Hansard]
November 25, 2015 [afternoon] – http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files%5Cdocs%5Chansards%5Chan%5Clegislature_29%5Csession_1%5C20151125_1330_01_han.pdf
December 1, 2015 [morning] -- http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files%5Cdocs%5Chansards%5Chan%5Clegislature_29%5Csession_1%5C20151201_0900_01_han.pdf
Bill 7 – Third Reading [Hansard]
December 7, 2015 [evening] -- http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files%5Cdocs%5Chansards%5Chan%5Clegislature_29%5Csession_1%5C20151207_1930_01_han.pdf
ALBERTA HUMAN RIGHTS STATUTES
AB – Human Rights Act [unamended]
AB – Bill of Rights
More information about TESA can be found at www.tesaonline.org
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