Margaret Ann Jacobs

CWL raises concerns over transgender law

  • August 25, 2017

OTTAWA - The Catholic Women’s League is raising concerns about the impact Canada’s new transgender law will have on freedom of religion and speech.

Bill C-16, which came into law June 19, added “gender identity and gender expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act and to the Criminal Code’s hate speech provisions.

“Members of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada are concerned that the passage of Bill C-16 will not allow Canadian citizens, a proportionately large segment of which are Catholic, to live out their faith and peaceably disagree with the current gender theory without fear of reprisal,” CWL National President Margaret Ann Jacobs wrote in an Aug. 16 letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).

“The League will always stand in support of any and all efforts to support and uphold the dignity of persons, their right to live in peaceful co-existence with others, and the right of all persons to speak their own truth in love.”

The letter reiterated a July 7 statement by the CCCB that called any form of unjust discrimination morally wrong, including against those who identify as transgender.

Jacobs praised the CCCB for “taking a courageous stand in voicing the concerns of its many faithful regarding their own rights, and indeed the right of the Church, to be able to peaceably disagree with current gender theory without fear of losing the many faithful’s freedom of speech, association or religion.”

Jacobs, in an interview, said the letter resulted from motions passed at the CWL’s national convention Aug. 6-9 in Charlottetown.

A related motion urged provincial and territorial councils to support the CCCB statement and to study papal teachings on the central tenets of gender theory.

The national convention adopted four resolutions that Canada’s largest women’s group intends to raise with the federal government : mandatory age verification for pornography sites to prevent children from accessing them; c o n s c i e n c e rights protection for health care workers added to the Criminal Code; the implementation of a Supreme Court decision regarding attention to mitigating factors in sentencing of Indigenous Canadians; and the removal of the GST on mandatory child safety products.

Jacobs said the resolution regarding age verification is designed to prevent children accidentally ending up on pornographic websites.

The resolution to protect health care workers from coercion that would violate their consciences came from the B.C. and Yukon Provincial Council because there is concern other provinces might follow Ontario’s lead, Jacobs said. Ontario’s College of Physicians and Surgeons requires doctors to make effective referrals when it comes to euthanasia, abortion or other procedures.

Many women were “concerned whether they’re going to have the kind of health care professionals we should have,” said Jacobs. “There are concerns people will choose not to practise medicine if their conscience is going to be violated.”

Jacobs added that “a lot of careful study went into the resolutions this year.”

In the fall, the CWL executive will make its annual visit to Parliament Hill to meet with politicians and civil servants regarding the resolutions.

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