Human Rights Act changes to protect transgender Nova Scotia's right to equality

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HALIFAX – Transgender Nova Scotians' right to equality and fairness will be made clear with proposed amendments to the Human Rights Act.   The amendments to be tabled today, Nov. 20, by Justice Minister Ross Landry will add gender identity and gender expression as protected grounds in the Human Rights Act.   Nova Scotians denied an apartment or job because they are transgender will be able to file a human rights complaint on that basis. Before, they would have had to file a complaint based on sex or disability.   "For too long, transgender Nova Scotians have faced discrimination, threats, insults and physical violence. This is not acceptable, and we will not tolerate it," Mr. Landry said.   "Making this change is the right thing to do. Transgender Nova Scotians deserve the same legal protection that the rest of us take for granted."   Ontario, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories have specific references to gender identity in their human rights legislation.   "We know that trans people face harassment and discrimination, and also that fear of such discrimination holds people back from leading full and healthy lives," said Kevin Kindred, chair of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project. "Affirming that trans discrimination is illegal will go a long way to alleviating that fear."   Kate Shewan said people's attitudes toward transgender Nova Scotians are improving, and these amendments will help.   "Transgender people are often worried that a gender transition could lead to rejection by friends or family, or the loss of their job," said Shewan, a transgender woman who has transitioned over the last three years. "My hope is that this will lead to changes in public attitudes and greater acceptance in society."   The amendments will be introduced today because Nov. 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance, an international day to remember people killed as a result of transphobia.  

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba Northwest Territories

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