New laws to fight discrimination are a good start! More needs to be done

As the Canadian government introduces an amendment to the Human Rights Act to make it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on gender identity and expression, the National Union wants to remind everyone on International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia that this is a struggle that we all need to be engaged in. NUPGE calls on Ottawa to ensure there is funding to build public clinics across the country. 

Ottawa (17 May 2016) – This year, on May 17, the International Day against Transphobia, Homophobia and Biphobia, the Trudeau government is taking the positive step of making it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on gender identity and gender expression. The amendment to the Human Rights Act would protect everyone from hate speech and discrimination, including establishing legal penalties for those who refused to hire or refused to provide services to a transgender individual.

Positive step forward

“This is a long-awaited measure,” said NUPGE’s National President James Clancy. “This form of discrimination has no place in Canadian society.”

“However, making these acts illegal is only a small step in making our society inclusive and supportive. All Canadians need to be engaged in efforts to end homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. Not only that we need to ensure that supports and services are there when people from these communities need them.”

Hate still exists

“The arson at the clinic in Montreal, the only one in Canada, that provides gender reassignment surgery is a reminder that hatred exists in this country,” said Clancy. “We need to do more than criminalize these expressions of hatred. We must start the education process to prevent them from the start.”

“I would also like to see the federal government take the positive step of providing appropriate funding to build public clinics across the country. There should be more clinics in Canada that provide this surgery.”

Pledge for the future

“I am proud that my union has long been a champion for ending discrimination,” said Clancy. “We promise to remain active in our communities and at the bargaining table in the struggle for full equality and freedom for all LGBT people.”

International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

May 17 is celebrated in more than 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex acts are illegal, with 1600 events reported from 1280 organizations in 2014. These mobilizations unite millions of people in support of the recognition of human rights for all, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

The date of May 17 was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

The International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia has received official recognition from several States, international institutions as the European Parliament, and by countless local authorities. Most United Nations agencies also mark the day with specific events.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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