Canada’s House of Commons has passed a bill making it illegal to discriminate against transgender people.
The bill passed by a vote of 149 for and 137 against, with the crucial support of 16 Conservatives, including four cabinet ministers.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper opposed the bill.
The bill was now go before the Senate, which is unelected and expected to approve it.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt and Heritage Minister James Moore were among the Conservatives who supported the bill, which was sponsored by New Democrat Randall Garrison.
‘Today, New Democrats are proud to have contributed to ensuring equal protection under the law from discrimination and hatred based on gender identity,’ Garrison said.
‘Transgender and transsexual citizens are among the most marginalized and are too often victims of harassment and acts of violence.’
Speaking about the bill earlier this month, Tory MP Michelle Rempel said: ‘Both sides of this debate should agree that equality and protection against harm are two fundamental values that all Canadians of any gender, any age, any background are entitled to.’
Shortly before Wednesday (20 March)’s vote, Calgary MP Rob Anders put forward a petition ‘on behalf of thousands’ of Canadians opposed to what he referred to as ‘the bathroom bill’.
‘These constituents feel that it is the duty of the House of Commons to protect and safeguard our children from any exposure and harm that would come from giving a man access to women’s public washroom facilities,’ Anders said.
Other Conservative MPs opposed the trans bill on other grounds, such as one who argued pedophiles would be protected if they ‘lurked’ in public bathrooms.
Others also argued transgender people were already protected on the basis of sex and disability.
However the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal supported adding explicit protection to trans people, saying it would promote acceptance and send a message about tolerance.