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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.

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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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Over 70% of deep-sea fish of Atlantic Ocean have ingested plastic : Study

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Fragments of plastic are found throughout the world, from nearly every continent to nearly every body of water. But, researchers recently have found 73 percent of Northwest Atlantic deep-sea fish are also eating it — the highest reported frequency of plastic-eating fish in the world.

Plastic particles were found in some of the most remote parts of the Atlantic Ocean with almost three quarters of a sample of more than 230 deep-water fish collected by NUI Galway scientists having ingested plastic particles.

The contamination level among the fish species, located in the northwest Atlantic thousands of kilometres from land and 600m down in the ocean, is one of the highest reported frequencies of microplastic occurrence in fish worldwide, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

The NUIG scientists, as part of the study, participated in a transatlantic crossing onboard the marine institute’s Celtic Explorer vessel.

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PhD candidate and lead author Alina Wieczorek said, “Deep-water fish migrate to the surface at night to feed on plankton [microscopic animals] and this is likely when they are exposed to the microplastics.”

During this research cruise they took dead deep-sea fish from midwater trawls such as the spotted lanternfish, rakery beaconlamp, stout saw-palate and scaly dragonfish.

Microplastics are small plastic fragments that commonly originate from the breakdown of larger plastic items entering the ocean. Other sources may be waste water effluents carrying plastic fibres from clothing and microbeads from personal care products. Due to their low density, most of these microplastics float at the sea surface.

The fish ranged in size from the smallest species the Glacier Lantern at 3.5cm to the largest species, the stout saw-palate at 59cm.

Agencies

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