There was a rare show of solidarity in the Legislature last week, over an NDP bill to add protection from discrimination for the transgendered community to Nova Scotia’s Human Right Act.
Premier Darrell Dexter:
These changes are about fairness and equality — the very basic rights of a free and inclusive society. They are also the same beliefs that New Democrat leaders have endorsed for years, from Alexa McDonough to Jack Layton.
For too long transgender Nova Scotians have faced discrimination, threats, insults and physical violence. This is not acceptable, and our government will not tolerate it.
Making these changes is the right thing to do. They are needed to ensure that transgender people have equal protection under the law and to help them feeler safer and more accepted in their communities.
This is why you elected an NDP government.
Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie:
As long as there’s one Nova Scotian who does not share in the equality, in equal rights, in the bounty and opportunity, in the freedoms of our province, then none of us is truly free and none of us is truly prosperous.
Halifax Citadel NDP MLA Leonard Preyra:
I’m always reminded of the words of Mahatma Gandhi in his long march for democracy in India where he said that a civilization is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable and marginalized people. As someone who has been involved in the human rights field for a number of decades now, I know that we sometimes forget that the protection of human rights is not about our freedoms of speech and expression, and not about protecting the rights of people who are like us. It’s not about protecting the rights of people who think like us or act like us. We are really judged by how much energy and passion we devote to protecting the rights of people who are not like us.
Cole Harbour – Eastern Passage NDP MLA Becky Kent:
I want to thank the people of Nova Scotia who have fought the battle for this change – our transgender community – thanks for not giving up, for believing in themselves and believing in humanity. When you’re faced with adversity over and over, when you’re faced with a pummeling of rejection and a pummeling of negativity that can tear you down, it would be sometimes an easier choice to give up that fight.
5 NDP MLAs, 2 Liberal MLAs and the Conservative Leader spoke on this human rights bill on second reading. A good sign for a Nova Scotia that the national media often portrays as an Alabama backwater.