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Motion to amend 'discriminatory' Transport Canada regulation fails to pass

Olivia Chow in Toronto, Jan. 9, 2012.

Matthew Sherwood/Matthew Sherwood / CP

A motion to amend a controversial Transport Canada regulation, which many say discriminates against transgender travellers, failed to pass.

The NDP's Olivia Chow, who put forth the motion in front of a House of Commons transportation committee, said she was disappointed with the vote: all six Tories voting against the five NDP and Liberal MPs.

According to the department's Identity Screening Regulations, if "a passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents," that person shouldn't be allowed to fly. Ms. Chow's motion would have removed that requirement.

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"Shame on the Conservatives for voting against this," Ms. Chow said Thursday. "If your face matched the photo on your identification, then what does it matter whether you're male, female, gay, straight, transgender. This is discriminatory."

So far, no one has claimed they were denied entry, according to Transport Canada, but it sparked a fierce outcry on several LGBT sites.

Pierre Floréa, spokesman for Transport Minister Denis Lebel, said in an e-mail statement the identification rules are necessary to ensure security and are applied in the same way to all passengers irrespective of their gender.

In contrast, Australia offers three gender options (male, female and indeterminate) on passports, which many LGBT groups such as Egale Canada say could eliminate this issue.

Ms. Chow isn't backing away from the subject, saying she and the NDP's LGBT critic Randall Garrison will put forward a private members bill to amend the regulation.

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