‘Biological sex’ sports bill is quickly quashed in B.C. legislature

'Biological sex' sports bill is quickly quashed in B.C. legislature
B.C. Conservative Party leader John Rustad speaks to members of the media during a year-end availability at the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023.

A proposal by British Columbia Conservative Leader John Rustad to use “biological¬†sex” to classify participants¬†in¬†publicly funded¬†sports¬†teams and events, effectively banning transgender athletes, didn’t get to first base.

His private member’s¬†bill, the Fairness¬†in¬†Women’s and Girls’¬†Sports¬†Act, was voted down at first reading, a fate that’s a rarity¬†in¬†the¬†B.C.¬†legislature.

“Historically, most first bills go through this place, regardless if you support them or not,” New Democrat house leader Ravi Kahlon said Tuesday outside the chamber after the proposed¬†bill¬†was¬†quashed.

“What we had¬†in¬†front of us ‚Ķ was a piece of legislation that we believe¬†is¬†hateful and discriminatory,” he said. “This was a matter of principle for my colleagues.”

The majority New Democrats, joined by two Green Party members and two Independents, voted down the proposed Conservative bill at first reading.

The Opposition BC United voted in favour of proceeding to first reading, saying the party traditionally never opposes the introduction of any bill on first reading.

“First reading¬†is¬†a process vote,” said BC United House Leader Todd Stone. “It¬†is¬†not a moment at which the merits of a piece of legislation are judged or debated.”

He said legislature members did not even have a copy of the proposed bill when it was presented to the legislature.

Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau said the participation and inclusion of all children and youth¬†in¬†sports¬†in¬†B.C. should not be used as “political wedges.”

“What we should be striving for¬†in¬†this province¬†is¬†political discourse that brings people together and doesn’t sow hatred and anger and fear,” she said. “We have¬†sports¬†bodies¬†in¬†this province who are dealing with very nuanced conversations about inclusion and participation.”

Rustad told the¬†legislature¬†the proposed¬†bill¬†would ensure publicly funded¬†sports¬†events “must be classified by¬†sex, and it limits participation to participants of the¬†biological¬†sex¬†that corresponds to the¬†sex¬†classification.”

He said the aim of the proposed bill was to ensure women are treated fairly.

“There are inherent differences between males and females, ranging from chromosomal and hormonal differences to physiological differences,” said Rustad.

“But more than the obvious differences, over time, women and girls have struggled to be identified as a person. They have struggled to have the right to vote. They have struggled to be allowed to be¬†in¬†certain places, and they have struggled to be paid fairly.”

Kahlon, a former Olympic field hockey player, said Rustad was using time¬†in¬†the¬†legislature¬†to “pick on kids.”

“I’ve spent my entire life playing sport,” he said. “I was bullied as a kid. I can tell you that¬†sports¬†saved me and it’s¬†sports¬†that saves a lot of young people out there. And to use kids and their abilities to just be among friends and playing something that they love as a political tool to try and score some points¬†is¬†shameful¬†in¬†my opinion.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2024.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian PressDirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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