Boissonnault made the statement Tuesday in Halifax, as part of a cross-country tour to seek concerns from the LGBT+ community.
Bill C-16, which would add gender identity and gender expression to the national Human Rights Act and Criminal Code of Canada, is currently going through Parliament. If passed, it would give federal protections to transgender people across Canada.
A transgender person is a person whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth, according to GLAAD.
“What we’re hearing from people coast-to-coast-to-coast is there still is discrimination, and the more intersectionalities you have, the more daily discrimination you face,” Boissonnault said.
“I mean, traveling across the country as a trans person is not a straight-forward proposition. Looking at just applying for a job or trying to find a place to live, there’s daily discrimination in all parts of our country, and part of this role as the Secretariat is help us move forward as a society and end all forms of discrimination.”
Bills to add gender identity and gender expression to the national Human Rights Act and Criminal Code of Canada have failed before in senate. In 2015, for example, Sen. Donald Plett opposed a bill that would have added “gender identity” to the code and championed an amendment that would have in effect, prohibited transgender people from entering a single-sex washroom, change room or abuse shelter under federal jurisdiction.
If Bill C-16 passes unmodified, it will make it illegal to discriminate against or segregate transgender people in all government facilities.
“So, the world has changed, things have evolved, the composition of the senate is different,” Boissonnault said.
“Our government is sending very strong signals with the creation of the Secretariat and the Special Advisor role. It’s really important that people who care about this issue communicate that to senators.”
As of December 2012, gender identity and gender expression were protected in the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act.
– With a file from The Canadian Press
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