Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise this evening in this adjournment debate to bring attention to a serious matter of discrimination against the transgendered community in Canada that was the result of a change in the regulations regarding air travel implemented in August 2011.
I am also happy to continue the debate here tonight in the hopes that the government will act to end this situation where an unnecessary regulation causes great distress to transgendered Canadians when they try to travel, by subjecting them to scrutiny that no others face.
This raises a couple of important questions. One is the question of privacy rights. Why do transgendered Canadians have to prove their gender when no one else is asked to face the same kind of scrutiny at an airport? They also have to do this in a public situation, which unfortunately exposes them to the prejudice that often exists in our country against transgendered Canadians and again is a violation of their privacy rights.
We have many examples where it has caused delays in people catching flights and therefore caused missed flights, the repurchase of tickets and disruption of their travel plans for a reason that would never happen to any other Canadian planning to travel. In some cases, people have been prevented from flying by their inability to come up with documents which match the gender appearance which they show.
The government took no action when I raised this question with the Minister of Transport in question period on February 1. In fact, not only was there no action, there was unfortunately much tittering on the other side as if there was something funny about the challenges that face transgendered Canadians in their everyday lives in this country.
At transport committee on February 9, government members voted unanimously to defeat a simple NDP motion that had been moved by the member for Trinity—Spadina. That motion called for the repeal of section 52(1)(c) of the identity screening regulations under the Aeronautics Act. This regulation states, “An air carrier shall not transport a passenger if the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents”.
This is a completely unnecessary regulation. It is not required under any of the international aeronautics agreements. There are many other solutions to the supposed problem presented by transgendered people who want to fly. The United Kingdom, for instance, does the very sensible thing, which we are talking about, which is requiring that identification simply match the face to the person on the documents. The question of gender is irrelevant to that match.
In Australia, there is a much more innovative solution. Australian passports and other documents allow three gender choices in determination of documents. Australian travel documents may say male, female or indeterminate, which allows transgendered people to choose a category which would not subject them to this kind of study.
In committee at that time the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport said, “I think my colleagues across have argued their case very well and have raised some good points.” Then he went on to raise no substantive points in answer to our proposal to simply limit the regulations for flying to matching up the face to the identity documents of the person.
Tonight I am asking the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport whether the government has reconsidered this issue. I am hoping that the government will be able to report to transgendered Canadians that this unnecessary regulation will be removed at the earliest possible date.