The Liberal government will introduce legislation this week to protect transgender Canadians against discrimination and violence, pushing the type of measure that is causing a political storm in the United States.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to announce the broad strokes of the new legislation Monday afternoon in Montreal, where he will receive an award "for his commitment to fighting homophobia and transphobia."
The legislation is set to be tabled on Tuesday, which is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Based on the mandate letter that Mr. Trudeau gave to his Justice Minister, the bill will add "gender identity" – alongside other characteristics such as race, religion, age, sex and sexual orientation – for protection under the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.
Recent attempts to pass similar legislation failed after facing opposition in the House and the Senate, mostly from members of the Conservative Party of Canada.
American politics are currently engulfed in a debate over transgender rights, with the Obama administration calling last week on all public schools to let transgender students use the washrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. The civil-rights battle is pitting liberals against conservatives in places such as North Carolina, where state law requires transgender people to use the public bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate.
On Monday, Mr. Trudeau will receive the Laurent McCutcheon Award, which is named after a pioneer gay-rights activist in Montreal.
Presented by Fondation Émergence, the prize aims "to highlight the unparalleled commitment made by Mr. Trudeau to demystify the realities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals for the general public across Quebec and Canada."
According to the foundation, Mr. Trudeau will be the first sitting Prime Minister to participate in a gay pride parade this summer. Mr. Trudeau is also being honoured for his commitments to allow sexually active gay men to give blood, pardon men who were convicted of gross indecency before homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969, and legislate additional protection for transgender individuals.
NDP MP Randall Garrison, who has tried and failed to enact legal protection for transgender Canadians in the past, said he expects the government's legislation will mirror his previous bill on the matter. He added that after going through the House twice, he hopes the legislation will finally be approved by the Senate.
Mr. Garrison called on the Liberals to act after a Montreal clinic that offers gender-reassignment surgery was the target of arson.
"During the election, the Liberals promised to add gender identity to the human-rights code and to the hate-crimes section of the Criminal Code," he said in the House last Tuesday. "The need is urgent."
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said the bill would be coming shortly. "Our government is committed to bringing forward legislation that will respect and ensure that we eliminate discrimination in all forms in this country," she said.
The trans community is often targeted with violence and discrimination, Ryan Dyck of Egale Canada said in 2013. Without additional protection, he said, trans people have to make human-rights claims under different categories, such as sex or disability, which leaves their protections unclear.
"There's an uncertainty for trans people across this country whether they are or are not covered by human-rights legislation," he said as Mr. Garrison's bill was debated in the Senate.
With a report from John Ibbitson