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Montreal, August 3, 2017 — There is no constitutionally, socially or morally valid reason for the Quebec Government to maintain discrimination based on citizenship status against immigrants who are transgender in everyday life.

CRARR signed on today to a campaign launched by coalition of groups to call on the Quebec Government to end legislated discrimination directed at transgender migrants in the province. The coalition includes many LGBT, women's and immigrant rights organizations such as AGIR, Arc-en-ciel d'Afrique, Heads and Hands, the Center for Gender Advocacy and the Fédération de femmes du Québec.

Due to art. 71 of the Quebec Civil Code, transgender migrants or non-citizens, unlike transgender Canadian citizens and minors residing in Quebec, cannot benefit from the measures enacted by the Government between 2013 and 2016 to allow changes to gender markers in government documents.

As a result, transgender immigrants in particular must continue to carry Quebec government-issued papers that misgender them; a restriction that leads to humiliation and discrimination as they apply for work, credit and housing, or while they shop or deal with public security officials. Since many transgender immigrants are also members of racialized and ethnic groups, citizenship discrimination effectively amounts to racial and ethnic discrimination. Quebec is the only province in Canada that maintains this discriminatory restriction.

In May 2017, a Parti Québécois Member of the National Assembly, Carole Poirier, introduced Bill 895 to eliminate the Canadian citizenship restriction. The bill has not been adopted.

Although the Supreme Court of Canada declared citizenship discrimination illegal and unconstitutional under s. 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Equal Protection and Benefit” Clause), citizenship discrimination in Quebec continues.

In a decision released earlier this year in a CRARR-supported case regarding citizenship restrictions imposed by the provincial Professional Syndicates Act (that limits employment to citizens only, for unions and nonprofits incorporated under this Act), the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission rules that citizenship per se is not a ground of prohibited discrimination in Quebec, and that the term “ethnic or national origin” cannot be read liberally to include citizenship or non-citizens as a group.

In the last two years, CRARR has made numerous representations to the Quebec Justice Minister and the Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion about the need to end citizenship discrimination in laws such as the Professional Syndicates Act and the need to include citizenship as a stand-alone ground of non-discrimination in the Quebec Charter. No changes have been made to date.

“Each year, Quebec's inaction on citizenship discrimination exposes more than 200,000 immigrants who do not have Canadian citizenship to racial discrimination,” said CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi. “It is a shameful form of systemic racism that subject transgender immigrants as well as other immigrants to undue hardship.”

CRARR has denounced this barrier of exclusion in its report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which will examine Canada's record on August 14 and 15 in Geneva. Other than the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission, CRARR is the only organization from Quebec that submits a report. Of all of civil society organizations that submit reports to the CERD, none comes from the LGBT community.