Rogers applauds human rights victory
NDP MHA Gerry Rogers (St. John’s Centre) says government’s decision to amend legislation as a result of a court challenge to the Vital Statistics Act is somewhat overdue, but welcome all the same. Rogers has repeatedly asked, both in and outside the House of Assembly, for transgender people to be able to amend their birth certificates to reflect the gender they identify as, without having to go through the lengthy and expensive process of reassignment surgery first. This right is already in place in Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Alberta.
This morning at the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, the government and the Attorney General advised that legislation to amend the Vital Statistics Act will be introduced during the next session of the legislature. This change comes from Kyra Rees’s application under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to have the provisions of the Act which require surgery prior to issuing an amended birth certificate declared invalid and discriminatory.
“This is an important step towards ensuring that governments recognize their obligations towards all citizens,” said Kyle Rees, the O’Dea Earle lawyer representing Ms. Rees (no relation). “The Vital Statistics Act, in its current form, continues to cause harm to a group of people who already experience a high degree of marginalization and discrimination.”
Kyra Rees is glad Government will make the changes, and urges quick action. “This discriminatory law has been on the books for far too long, and it’s interfered with my ability to travel and be safe in a social setting.”
Rogers says the decision reflects that activism and hard work can accomplish almost anything. “Both Kyra and Kyle have been leaders on this important issue, and I am happy to have been given the opportunity to do what I could, as a legislator, to help,” she said.
“Government has already hinted there may be a fall sitting of the House. If that happens, I expect to be debating and voting on an amended Vital Statistics Act.”