Canada House Approves Transgender Rights Bill Despite PM Harper’s Objection

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By Tendar Tsering | March 21, 2013 4:35 PM EST

Canadian House of Commons Wednesday passed a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against the transgender Canadians in the country.

The transgender rights bill was approved in the House of Commons despite objections from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and most of his front and backbenchers.

Sixteen Conservatives and four Cabinet ministers including Foreign Minister John Baird supported the bill passing it with a vote of 149-137, according to the Canadian Press.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt and Heritage Minister James Moore were among the list of Conservatives who voted in support of the bill.

The bill was supported in unison by New Democrat Randall Garrison and opposition parties.

"Today, New Democrats are proud to have contributed to ensuring equal protection under the law from discrimination and hatred based on gender identity," said Randall Garrison in a statement after the vote.

"We are happy there was all party support for formal protection of Transsexual, Transgender and Gender variant Canadians' rights under the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code with Bill c-279," said Garrison, "Transgender and transsexual citizens are among the most marginalized and are too often victims of harassment and acts of violence."

Shortly before Wednesday's vote, Canadian Parliamentarian Rob Anders tabled a petition in the name of "thousands of Canadian citizens" who oppose the bill calling it a "the bathroom bill."

Members of Parliament, objecting the bill raised questions such as how men in women's dress could be allowed to walk into women's public washrooms.

"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," said Rob Anders.

Following the approval by the House of Commons, the bill is now seeking approval from the Senate of the country.

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