Transgender activists speak out – Say they are not protected under the provincial Human Rights Act

The Telegram, NL, Canada
Published on May 18, 2013
By Flavio Nienow

Special to The Telegram

“Powerless is a word that a lot of people in this room can relate to,”
said transgender James Moriarty, the keynote speaker Friday at the
International Day Against Homophobia breakfast in St. John’s.

Under the Human Rights Act, people are protected based on certain
grounds such as gender, political opinion, religion and race, but
there’s no specific protection outlined for transgenders.

“Until that happens, we’re at a huge disadvantage,” said Moriarty.

Gerry Rogers, the NDP MHA for St. John’s Centre and a transgender
issues activist, agreed, saying “there’s no good reason not to go
forward with this.”

“Transgender people are among the most bullied people in our society,”
she added.

Statistics from a survey of schools by the Canadian organization
Equality For Gays and Lesbians Everywhere (EGALE), show that 74 per
cent of trans youth have been verbally harassed about their gender
expression, and 37 per cent have been physically assaulted.

In Canada, Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and the Northwest
Territories have included gender identity in their Human Rights Code.

“Newfoundland is lagging behind,” said Rogers. “It’s something that we
have been pushing and lobbying for.”

Rogers said she presents a petition in the House of Assembly “at least
once a week” asking to include the grounds of gender identity in the
Human Rights Act.

In 2010, the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission made a
submission to the provincial government asking that transgender be
included as a specific prohibited ground in the Human Rights Act, said
the commission’s executive director, Carey Majid.

“The government, for whatever reason, chose not to do it,” she said.

The Department of Justice says the Newfoundland and Labrador Human
Rights Commission accepts complaints related to gender identity issues
based on gender grounds, and that “currently, there is no gap in the
province’s legislation regarding complaints related to gender identity
and gender expression.”

EGALE recently began a project in school districts in Newfoundland
and Labrador and has found transgender youth in “every region of the
province,” said EGALE’s executive director Helen Kennedy.

Trans people are brothers, sisters, lawyers and even our
politicians,” said Rogers. “They have the right to full protection
under the law.”

Gender identity is not yet covered by the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Bill 279, the gender-identity bill recently passed in the House of
Commons, is currently being debated by the Senate, said Kennedy.

© Copyright 2008 – 2013 TC Media

http://www.theteleg Local/2013- 05-18/article- 3251735/Transgen der-activists- speak-out- Say-they- are-not-protecte d-under-the- provincial- Human-Rights- Act/1



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