An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code

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An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code
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An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (Bill C-16, 2016)
Citation SC 2017, c. 13
Territorial extent Canada
Enacted by Parliament of Canada
Date of Royal Assent June 19, 2017
Date commenced June 19, 2017
Legislative history
Bill citation C-16
Bill published on May 17, 2016
Introduced by Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice
First reading House of Commons: May 17, 2016
Second reading Oct 18, 2016
Third reading Nov 18, 2016
First reading Senate: November 22, 2016
Second reading March 2, 2017
Third reading June 15, 2017

An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (Bill C-16, 2016) is a law passed by the Canadian Parliament. Introduced on May 17, 2016, the bill adds gender expression and identity as a protected ground to the Canadian Human Rights Act, and also to the Criminal Code provisions dealing with hate propaganda, incitement to genocide, and aggravating factors in sentencing.

The bill passed the legislative process in the House of Commons and the Senate, and became law upon receiving Royal Assent on June 19, 2017, coming into force immediately.[1][2][3]

Summary

The summary of Bill C-16 is as follows:

The bill is intended to protect individuals from discrimination within the sphere of federal jurisdiction and from being the targets of hate propaganda,[4] as a consequence of their gender identity or their gender expression. The bill adds “gender identity or expression” to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the list of characteristics of identifiable groups protected from hate propaganda in the Criminal Code. It also adds that evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on a person’s gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance for a court to consider when imposing a criminal sentence.[5]

Amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act

The law amends the Canadian Human Rights Act by adding "gender identity or expression" as a prohibited ground of discrimination.[6] That makes it illegal to deny services, employment, accommodation and similar benefits to individuals based on their gender identity or gender expression within a federal regulated industry. A person who denies benefits because of the gender identity or gender expression of another person could be liable to provide monetary reimbursement. This prohibition would only apply to matters within federal jurisdiction.

Amendments to the Criminal Code

The law amends the Criminal Code by adding "gender identity or expression" to the definition of "identifiable group" in section 318.[7][8] Section 318 makes it a criminal offence to advocate or promote genocide against members of an identifiable group, which now includes gender identity or gender expression. Since the definition of "identifiable group" is also used in s 319 of the Code, the amendment also makes it a criminal offence to incite or promote hatred because of gender identity or gender expression.[9]

The law also adds "gender identity or expression" to section 718.2 of the Criminal Code.[10] This section is part of the sentencing provisions and makes gender identity and gender expression an aggravating factor in sentencing, leading to increased sentences for individuals who commit crimes motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression.

Predecessor bills

The Act is the most recent iteration of several proposed bills introduced to previous parliaments. In 2005, New Democratic Party MP Bill Siksay introduced a bill in the House of Commons to explicitly add "gender identity or expression" as prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act. He reintroduced the bill in 2006. In May 2009, he introduced it again, with additional provisions to add gender identity and gender expression to the hate crimes provisions of the Criminal Code. In February 2011, it passed third reading in the House of Commons with support from all parties, but was not considered in the Senate before Parliament was dissolved for the 41st Canadian federal election. Two bills, C-276 and C-279, on the subject were introduced in the 41st Canadian Parliament by both the Liberals and the NDP, respectively. The NDP's Bill C-279 passed second reading on June 6, 2012. However, that bill also died on the Senate order paper when the 2015 federal election was called.

Criticism and support

Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, has criticized the bill, claiming that it infringes freedom of speech.[11][12] Some academics challenged Peterson's interpretation of the legal effects of the bill,[13] while others such as Robert P. George supported him.[14]

The Canadian Bar Association supported the passage of the bill, by writing a detailed letter to the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Speaking for the CBA, the President, René J. Basque, Q.C./c.r, argued that the bill would provide necessary protections for trans-gender people; made explicit the protections for trans-gender people which were already contained in the prohibition on discrimination based on sexual orientation; and did not pose any risk to freedom of expression.[15]

References

  1. ^ LegisInfo (42nd Parliament, 1st Session).
  2. ^ LEGISinfo - House Government Bill C-16 (42-1)
  3. ^ Tasker, John Paul (June 16, 2017). "Canada enacts protections for transgender community". CBC News. Retrieved June 16, 2017. 
  4. ^ Library of Parliament: "Hate Propaganda".
  5. ^ Library of Parliament Research Publications: "Legislative Summary of Bill C-16: An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code".
  6. ^ Bill C-16 (2016), clause 2.
  7. ^ Bill C-16 (2016), clause 3.
  8. ^ Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46, s 318(4).
  9. ^ Criminal Code, s 319(7).
  10. ^ Bill C-16 (2016), clause 4.
  11. ^ Murphy, Jessica (4 November 2016). "Toronto professor Jordan Peterson takes on gender-neutral pronouns". BBC. 
  12. ^ Peterson, Jordan B. "Canadian gender-neutral pronoun bill is a warning for Americans". The Hill. 
  13. ^ Chiose, Simona (November 19, 2016). "University of Toronto professor defends right to use gender-specific pronouns". The Globe and Mail. 
  14. ^ Winsa, Patty (January 15, 2017). "He says freedom, they say hate. The pronoun fight is back". Toronto Star. 
  15. ^ Letter from René J. Basque, QC/cr, President of the Canadian Bar Association, to The Honourable Bob Runciman, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, May 10, 2017.

External links

  • House Government Bill C-16: An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code
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