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
Parliament-Ottawa.jpg
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. It was introduced in the Parliament of Canada on May 17, 2016 by the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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] the Canadian Bar Association delivered an opinion to the Senate that encouraged the passage of the bill, and specifically addressed and dismissed Peterson's concerns from a legal standpoint.[14]

References[edit]

External links[edit]