B.C. Conservatives' 'biological sex' sports bill is quickly quashed in legislature

VICTORIA — 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 … 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 in a statement the party was sticking to its policy under Leader Kevin Falcon to never oppose the introduction of any bill on first reading.

"Under Kevin Falcon, the BC United caucus has always, and continues to always respect parliamentary tradition and support all bills from all four political parties, on first reading votes out of respect for the democratic process," said the statement.

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 Press

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