According to the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, a private member’s bill creating special protections for “gender identity” and “gender expression” is unnecessary and may even be dangerous. In a Dec. 7 letter to Canadian MPs, Don Hutchinson, vice president and general legal counsel of the EFC, states that the “courts and human rights tribunals have already developed jurisprudence under existing human rights categories to protect people who are transsexual or transgendered.”

Bill C-279 is sponsored by NDP LGBTT critic Randall Garrison (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca) and a vote on it is imminent. Bill C-279, recently was the subject of hearings at the standing committee on justice and human rights, and was returned to the House of Commons on Dec. 10 for third reading. Pro-family critics of the bill hope that a third vote would not take place before the Christmas recess.

If passed, C-279 would make “gender identity” and “gender expression” specially protected classes under the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and Criminal Code for the purposes of human rights law and hate crimes. However, the EFC’s letter states that this is already included under the category of “sexual orientation,” which the Supreme Court had already determined to be protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“To now suggest the need to specifically deal with transsexual and transgender individuals is like advocating that the term “religion” in the Canadian Human Rights Act is inadequate and therefore human rights legislation should identify specific denominations such as Baptists, Mennonites, Salvationists, and Pentecostals,” writes Hutchinson.

He outlines that there are concerns about how the new legislation would be interpreted by the courts. “The courts operate from a position that there must be a reason a legislature adds new words,” explaining, “The reason is usually assumed to be that the old language was somehow inadequate.” However, Hutchinson observed, the terms gender identity and gender expression are “undefined” in the proposed legislation. Therefore, adding them to the CHRA and Criminal Code could be dangerous.

The redundancy of adding gender expression and gender identity to the CHRA and Criminal Code is also maintained by groups that support their inclusion.

High-ranking officials from the human rights kangaroo courts admitted that Bill C-279 was unnecessary when they testified before the justice committee on Nov. 27. Ian Fine, the acting secretary general of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, said that people facing “discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression … are currently protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act.” Nevertheless, he stated that adopting Bill C-279 “would make protection of the transgender community explicit.”

Susheel Gupta, acting chairperson and chief executive officer of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, testified that the CHRT adjudicated four cases that dealt with “gender identity” or “expression,” and ruled in favour of the complainants in each case.

Conservative MP Roger Goguen (Moncton-Reviewview-Dieppe) said that Fine and Gupta’s admissions suggests that Bill C-279 is “purely symbolic” and that the four cases “clearly indicate that protection is already afforded.” In response to Goguen’s comments, Fine conceded that “strictly speading, I suppose the legislation isn’t necessary.”