Government moves to strengthen laws against discrimination based on gender identity and expression

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Ottawa, Ontario - May 17, 2016

Diversity and inclusion are among Canada’s greatest strengths; Canadians must feel safe in their identities, and free to be themselves. That is why the Government of Canada is updating the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to include gender identity and gender expression.

Today, on International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced legislation that will help ensure transgender and other gender-diverse people can live according to their gender identity.

The objectives of the Bill are to recognize and reduce the vulnerability of trans and other gender-diverse persons to discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crimes, and to affirm their equal status in Canadian society.

Minister Wilson-Raybould introduced the legislation in the House of Commons, then joined members and advocates of the transgender community to announce the legislation. 

If the legislation is passed, gender identity and gender expression will become prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). Hate propaganda offences in the Criminal Code will be expanded to protect identifiable groups who are targeted for their gender identity or expression. The Criminal Code will be amended to clarify that where someone commits a crime motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or gender expression, a judge must consider that as an aggravating factor in deciding what sentence to impose.


“In Canada, we celebrate inclusion and diversity. All Canadians should be safe to be themselves. The law should be clear and explicit: transgender and other gender-diverse persons have a right to live free from discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crime. We are committed to making Canada stronger by ensuring Canadian laws reflect the rich diversity of our people.”

Jody Wilson-Raybould
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Quick Facts

  • Gender identity is each person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is their sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum. Gender expression is how a person publicly presents their gender. This can include behaviour and outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language and voice.
  • Transgender persons face high levels of discrimination and crime. A survey conducted by Trans Pulse Project in 2010 showed that out of the 500 transgender respondents in Ontario, 13% had been fired and 18% were refused employment based on their transgender status. Twenty percent of respondents had been physically or sexually assaulted, but not all of these assaults were reported to police.

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Office of the Minister of Justice

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