Freedom from discrimination
including homophobia and transphobia.
For Canada’s unions, it’s a labour of love.
Starting in the 1970s, Canada’s unions have supported LGBTQ rights at work, in the courts, and in our communities. Unions advocated for inclusive language in collective agreements to promote equality and protect workers from discrimination. Many of these rights and benefits are now standard in workplaces today.
In the early 2000s, unions were key partners in the Canadians for Equal Marriage campaign, along with LGBTQ organizations, professional associations and students advocating for marriage equality in Canada.
But there is still work to be done to challenge homophobia and transphobia and ensure freedom from discrimination in our workplaces and communities, and Canada’s unions are standing with the LGBTQ community to take on that challenge.
Ensuring respect and fair treatment for trans workers is a key priority for Canada’s unions today. In May 2016, the federal government introduced Bill C-16, which will add gender identity and gender expression as protected grounds under the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code. This is the third attempt to pass this legislation, which Canadian unions have supported since the beginning. There is hope for swift adoption in the fall.
Unions like the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) have made gains for trans members by bargaining for access to safe washrooms and change rooms and for the right to be referred to by one’s chosen gender.
Recently the Canadian Labour Congress released a practical guide for union representatives to support trans union members in the workplace before, during, and after gender transition.