Home > Releases > Attorney General’s Non-Support for Trans Human Rights Bill-186 Reprehensible

Attorney General’s Non-Support for Trans Human Rights Bill-186 Reprehensible

November 25th, 2010

Queer Ontario deplores the recent decision taken by Attorney General of Ontario Chris Bentley on November 18, 2010 to dismiss the latest appeal to include gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds for discrimination in the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Queer Ontario strongly supports the inclusion of the terms “gender identity” and “gender expression” in human rights legislation as tabled in private members bills brought forth by MP Bill Siksay at the federal level and MPP Cheri DiNovo at the provincial level in Ontario. The extension of human rights protections to Canadians whose gender identity or expression is not based on a ‘biological’ binary model is long overdue especially since they are recognized as one of the most disenfranchised and oppressed populations in the country.

In a previous release (June 4, 2010) Queer Ontario called upon all MPPs in the Ontario provincial legislature to support DiNovo’s private member’s Bill 186 — also known as Toby’s Act — which would include “gender identity” as an enumerated ground for protection in the Ontario Human Rights Code. We are deeply concerned with the fact that Attorney General Chris Bentley has failed to recognize the need for these special provisions, especially for the legal and social protection of the thousands of Ontarians who are directly affected by gender-based discrimination and harassment across the province. Indeed, “It is extremely disappointing that Attorney General Bentley fails to see the importance of this bill, and it is equally as reprehensible that he and the governing Liberals are failing to take a principled stance on this long overdue human rights issue” says Queer Ontario founder Nick Mulé.

Chris Bentley based his decision not to support inclusion of gender identity as prohibited grounds for discrimination by stating that existing provisions in the Human Rights Code designated under ‘sex’ and ‘disability’ provide adequate protection. Queer Ontario, in alliance with trans-rights activists, contests this assumption and reasserts the proof that explicit recognition of gender-based discrimination is needed in the Code in order to expressly recognize the ongoing systemic discrimination faced by gender-described Canadians.

Trans folks continue to face severe disadvantage in employment, housing and the provision of health and social services. Data from the Trans PULSE Health Survey reveals that trans people face disproportionate levels of poverty with over 40% unemployed, underemployed or unable to work. Moreover 50% of trans people reported an annual income of $15,000 or less, and one in five were living in assisted or unstable housing. Trans-identified Ontarians consistently face discrimination from landlords and health care providers (43% without formal training on trans issues), including denial of access to vital services such as shelters, mental health, and rape crisis services. All of this has a serious impact on their health and wellbeing as 43% of trans Ontarians have attempted suicide.

The work of the Trans Human Rights Campaign and others to include explicit language in the Ontario Human Rights Code is fully supported by Queer Ontario. We feel that this is a crucial and important step in making trans-human rights visible in the Province and indeed throughout Canada. Including trans human rights in the Ontario Human Rights Code provides not only much needed symbolic recognition to a vulnerable population, but, equally as important, it also extends concrete legal protection and recognition for trans-identified Canadians as part of a pluralistic and equitable society.


Trans PULSE. (2007). Trans Pulse: Report on Phase I & Plans for Phases II and III. London: University of Western Ontario. Retrieved November 23, 2010.

Trans PULSE E-Bulletin. (2010). Ontario Trans Communities and Suicide: Transphobia is Bad for Our Health, Vol. 1, 2. London: University of Western Ontario. Retrieved November 23, 2010.

Trans PULSE E-Bulletin. (2010). Who Are Trans People in Ontario? Vol. 1, 1. London: University of Western Ontario. Retrieved November 23, 2010.


Nick Mule – 416.926.9135

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