In a 149-137 vote, C-279, a private member’s bill that would add amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and hate crimes law by adding gender identity and gender expression to the specially protected classes of people, passed Parliament on March 20 and will now move to the Senate. In 2011, a previous version of the bill passed the House but died in the Senate when the federal election was called.

All NDP, Liberals, Bloc Quebecois members, and Green Party MP Elizabeth May voted for Randall Garrison’s (NDP, Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca) bill. They were joined by 17 Conservatives, including cabinet ministers John Baird, Jim Flaherty, James Moore, and Lisa Raitt.

Groups such as REAL Women, Campaign Life Coalition, and the Canada Family Action Coalition opposed the bill, saying it would effectively abolish the distinction between male and female under Canadian law.

Some critics have also dubbed C-279 the “bathroom bill” saying it could give biological men a legal alibi to use women’s bathrooms, shower rooms, and changing rooms. They worry that such a bill will lead to an increase in sexual assaults.

Michelle Rempel (CPC, Calgary Centre North) who had supported C-279 earlier and was the subject of a massive lobbying campaign by pro-family groups, voted against the bill saying “the lack of clarity” in C-279 troubled her.