NDP calls on Conservatives to approve six initiatives to promote equal rights for LGBTQ community

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Vancouver East NDP MP Libby Davies calls it the "NDP gay agenda".

      In an interview with the Georgia Straight from Ottawa, the veteran parliamentarian said that her party has brought forward six measures to advance equal rights for the LGBTQ community.

      "What we're saying with these initiatives is that although Canada has had many victories and many milestones, it's not over yet and there's still work to be done," Davies said. "We want to draw attention to that."

      The NDP held a news conference today in Ottawa to announce these measures, which comes just two days before the start of the WorldPride 2014 Toronto festival.

      Davies pointed out to the Straight that the Senate has still not passed Bill C-279, amends the Canadian Human Rights Code to provide protection on the basis of gender identity.

      The bill, which was introduced by Esquimalt–Juan de Fuca NDP MP Randall Garrison, also adds "gender identity" to the hate-crime legislation.

      This would enable judges to impose longer sentences on those who commit crimes motivated by prejudice or bias against transgender people. 

      It passed Parliament in March 2013, but the unelected Senate still hasn't granted its approval.

      "We're calling on the Senate to quit the stalling and to pass the bill and uphold the will of Parliament," Davies said.

      She added that Garrison also introduced Motion-516 to end discriminatory practices against gay men with respect to blood and organ donations.

      In April, NDP MPs presented petitions in Parliament calling on the federal government to revise policies in these areas that discriminate against people in same-sex relationships.

      Meanwhile,  Toronto Danforth NDP Craig Scott has introduced Bill C-448 to repeal section 159 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which would remove any distinction between anal intercourse and other sexual activities.

      Davies explained that section 159 was introduced as part of the Conservatives' law-and-order agenda.

      "It left a discrimination in terms of anal sex for the age of consent," Davies explained.

      Bill C-600, which was introduced by Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine NDP MP Philip Toone, would amend the Criminal Records Act. The bill is designed to force the Parole Board of Canada to suspend criminal records of anyone convicted in the past of homosexual activities that are no longer illegal.

      The fifth NDP initiative for the LGBT community, Motion 517, would revise service records for those discharged from the Canadian Forces on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

      And the sixth is Davies's Motion 521 to apologize to civil servants who were fired on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

      "People were fired, they faced great harm and discrimination, some people committed suicide, so we're asking that there be an apology," Davies said.

      The NDP has traditionally been seen as the most LGBT-friendly federal party.

      Former NDP MP Svend Robinson's private member's bill resulted in sexual orientation being included in hate-crime legislation.

      His successor in Burnaby-Douglas, the NDP's Bill Siksay, introduced bills on three occasions to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.

      It passed third reading in 2011 but died when an election was called.

      In addition, former NDP leader Jack Layton was a strong supporter of LGBT rights both as a municipal and federal politician.

      But it hasn't always been smooth sailing.

      In 2008, Daily Xtra reported that Siksay was disciplined by the NDP caucus for being the only MP to vote against the bill to impose the discriminatory age-of-consent law that the party now opposes.

      For her part, Davies is proud of the NDP's role in advancing LGBT issues.

      "The NDP has had, I think, a pretty amazing record of always standing up for equality and human rights," she said.