- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2017

Human rights legislation being considered in Canada has triggered an overhaul of gender identity policies within its federal government, passport office not excluded.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on Thursday said Canada intends to offer travelers another option for gender on their passports in addition to male and female.

At least seven countries currently allow citizens to choose a non-binary option on their passports, and a human rights bill being weighed in Ottawa, C-16, would establish gender protections poised to make Canada the eighth.

The possibility of offering a third-option for gender on Canadian passports was weighed after C-16 was introduced last May and emerged again Thursday before Canada’s Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

“What is going to be written in a passport? What kind of checks should be made before the passport is delivered?” Conservative Sen. Jean-Guy Dagenais asked the justice minister, The Toronto Star reported.

“Without question … we have work to do,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould responded. “Simply ticking a box of male or female doesn’t accord with the intent that is in Bill C-16.”

The human rights bill, if approved, would make it illegal to discriminate against gender identity and gender expression in addition to broadening existing hate speech laws to protect against crimes targeting either.

“Parliament has the opportunity to affirm, in clear language, that trans and gender diverse persons are entitled to equal protection from discrimination, hate propaganda and hate crime and that all Canadians are entitled to manifest their gender identity and expression without fear for their safety,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould said Thursday.

“The prime minister is very mindful of perhaps a third box or an ability to mark something other than male or female. This work is being undertaken at Passport Canada,” she added, according to CBC. “Individual ministers and (people) within their departments are recognizing that this bill has been introduced, that there is work that needs to continue to be taken.”

International Civil Aviation Organization rules require travel documents to list a person’s sex as one of three categories — male, female and unspecified — but only a handful currently offer citizens a third option on identifying documents: Australia, Bangladesh, Germany, India, Nepal, New Zealand and Pakistan.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to offer a third-option last year after the Canadian province of Ottawa said it would begin offering its own gender-neutral identification cards to residents.

“It’s something we’re looking at federally. We’re just trying to figure out the best way to actually get around to doing it,” Mr. Trudeau said last July. “That’s part of the great arc of history sweeping towards justice.”

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