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Canada announces ban on transgender discrimination

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MONTREAL — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced legislation Monday to protect transgender people from hate speech and discrimination, as debate rages in the United States over laws restricting their rights.

“Even today, despite all the obstacles we have overcome, the battles we have won, and the victories we have celebrated, we are still witnesses, and in some cases, victims of injustices,” Trudeau said in a speech at a Montreal event hosted by gay rights group Fondation Emergence.

“We must continue to demand true equality,” he said. “We must carry on the legacy of those who fought for justice by being bold and ambitious in our actions.”

The bill is to be officially unveiled by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on Tuesday, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

It will add “gender identity” alongside race, religion, age, sex and sexual orientation as prohibited grounds for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and add transgender persons to a list of groups protected from hate-mongering under the Criminal Code, according to Wilson-Raybould’s mandate letter from the prime minister.

The Canadian parliament’s previous attempts to pass similar legislation failed. But this time, due to a Liberal majority in the House, the measures are expected to pass easily.

Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was Canada’s justice minister when Ottawa introduced a Criminal Code amendment to decriminalize homosexuality. He famously commented at the time (two years before it became law): “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”

In July, Justin Trudeau will be the first sitting prime minister to participate in a gay pride parade, in Montreal.

Following his speech, Fondation Emergence honoured him with an award for his promotion of gay rights, including allowing sexually active gay men to donate blood, and pardoning gay men who were convicted of gross indecency before homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969.

South of the border, meanwhile, a debate on equal rights in the United States has been raging over a flurry of initiatives targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities since a historic Supreme Court decision last year legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

Last week, the US federal government and North Carolina’s governor launched dueling lawsuits over a state law restricting transgender Americans’ use of public restrooms.

AFP

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Health

Sleeping in on weekends may help live longer

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Sleep deprivation has been found to have numerous negative effects on a person’s health. But the new study has shown that sleeping more on the weekend might help ease health problems associated with not getting enough during the week, and even reduce the risk of an early death.

The study, published in Journal of Sleep Research by scientists from Sweden and the United States, suggested that the negative effects of a few nights of short sleep could be counteracted by staying in bed over the weekend.

The from the Stress Research Institute (SRI) at Stockholm University and the Karolinska Institute discovered that people below 65 years old who slept less than five hours on weekends had a higher risk of early death after examining medical and lifestyle data from more than 43,000 adults, following them for a period of 13 years.

For people who slept for less than five hours throughout the week but slept longer on the weekends for about nine hours, there was no increase in mortality risk. But, for people who consistently slept for less than five hours through the whole week, the mortality risk is higher.

Torbjorn Akerstedt, one of the authors of the research and a clinical neuroscience professor from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said that the findings were consistent with previous studies on the link between sleep duration and mortality.

However, those previous studies only focused on sleep during weekdays.

“The results imply that short sleep is not a risk factor for mortality if it is combined with a medium or long weekend sleep,” the researchers wrote in the study.

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