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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 23, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 47
GOP lawmakers try to strip LGBT protections from new NAFTA treaty Canadian PM insists they stay
Section One
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GOP lawmakers try to strip LGBT protections from new NAFTA treaty Canadian PM insists they stay

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Forty Republican members of Congress have written to Donald Trump, insisting that language protecting LGBT people be stripped from the draft of a new NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico.

On the other hand, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose government will be one of the parties to the deal, is equally determined that human rights protections stay in the agreement.

NAFTA, or the North American Free Trade Agreement, was first negotiated from 1990 to 1992. It is currently being renegotiated on the initiative of the Trump administration.

Language in the draft text of the deal includes a pledge to enact 'policies that protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of sex, including with regard to pregnancy, sexual harassment, sexual orientation, and gender identity.'

In their letter, the Republican members of Congress explicitly criticized the wording naming sexual orientation and gender identity.

'We are deeply concerned,' they write, 'by the unprecedented inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity language for the first time in a Free Trade Agreement... A trade agreement is no place for the adoption of social policy.

'It is especially inappropriate and insulting to our sovereignty to needlessly submit to social policies which the United States Congress has so far explicitly refused to accept.'

However, Trudeau, a strong advocate of LGBT rights, defended the wording of the current deal, which he said reflects 'shared values.'

According to the Toronto Star, he told reporters at a summit on November 18, 'We got to a good agreement that I think represents Canadian values, Canadian approach, but also values that are broadly shared amongst citizens of our three countries.

'In any trade deal, there are going to be people who would like this or like that or not want this or not want that.'

Trudeau added, 'We're going to let the American officials and administration focus on their ratification process while we focus on ours.'

The deal is subject to approval from Congress in the US, and it could fail to pass if the Republicans oppose it.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation was outlawed in Canada in 1996, while laws banning discrimination based on gender identity or expression were adopted in 2017.

Mexico federally outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2003, though it is yet to outlaw discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

There is no federal law in the United States barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as efforts to pass an LGBT Equality Act have been consistently blocked by Republicans.

Due to an inconsistent patchwork of state-level laws, it is currently legal to discriminate against gay employees in 29 US states and transgender workers in 34 US states.

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