Justice and Public Safety
November 20, 2014
The following is being distributed at the request of the Human Rights Commission:
Transgender Day of Remembrance
Today, the Human Rights Commission is joining with residents of Newfoundland and Labrador to observe Transgender Day of Remembrance, held annually on November 20. The day is specially designated to memorialize those who have faced discrimination, violence, and murder due to transphobia.
Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has been prohibited in Newfoundland and Labrador since 1997, when sexual orientation was added to the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Code. However as a group, and often as individuals, transgender people have encountered violence and discrimination and suffered at the hands of groups and individuals intolerant and hateful towards their right to full inclusion, and right to live with dignity and safety.
In 2010, the Human Rights Code was repealed and replaced entirely with the Human Rights Act, 2010. The act ensures protections for the LGBTQ community against discrimination and harassment. In December 2013, the Provincial Government amended the act to expressly include gender identity and gender expression in the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Act, 2010 recognizes that every individual is free and equal in dignity and rights. When we recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance, we not only memorialize those whose lives and innocence were lost through transphobia, we are reminded of the need to strive towards absolute social equality among all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission continues to receive complaints from individuals who have experienced discrimination or harassment as a result of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
"Let us remember members of the trans community who, through no fault of their own, became victims of violence and hatred. Let our memory of that difficult history serve as a reminder of the challenges the trans community has faced in the past, and as a call to action to ensure that there is no place for discrimination in Newfoundland and Labrador now and in the future.
When trans Newfoundlanders and Labradorians experience marginalization and discrimination because of their gender identity or expression, the result is an unsafe environment in our communities. The ripple effect that discrimination has on friends, colleagues, neighbours, and families can be devastating.
Our society has made meaningful strides towards equality for sexual minorities. However, we have some way to go in remembering that human rights are lived experiences, and not simply laws to be changed years later. Their purpose is to ensure a society of respect for human individuality and dignity. Their protection is contingent on our residents, communities, employers, unions, and governments.
As we reflect back on the past, let us remember the difficult experiences of trans men and women and their allies, whose persistent advocacy, commendable resilience, and indefatigable commitment to positive change led to the progress our human rights laws reflect today.”
-Remzi Cej, Chair of the Human Rights Commission
The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission is committed to ending all discrimination, and this includes transphobia. The commission aims to promote compliance with the Human Rights Act, 2010, and it offers public education programming designed to educate about legal human rights protections, the benefits of diversity, and the goal of full and meaningful inclusion of all people in society, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. For more information on the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission, please visit: www.thinkhumanrights.ca.
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Carey Majid, LLB
2014 11 20 10:00 a.m.