Transgender community goes face-to-face with pastor opposing parts of Bill C-16

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Transgender community goes face-to-face with pastor opposing parts of Bill C-16

Advocates of a federal bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against gender identity showed up on the doorstep of a New Westminster church to debate a pastor who has led a campaign that opposes sections of Bill C-16.

The bill, currently before parliament, would amend the Human Rights Act — making it illegal to discriminate against gender identity and expression.

The bill includes housing and employment equity, but Pastor Paul Dirks is worried Bill C-16 will make people vulnerable if all genders are allowed to use the same showers, locker rooms, rape shelters and camp cabins.

Watch as Dirks is confronted by protesters:

"My position is there are all sorts of women who need to feel protected," he said Sunday as he faced-off with protesters across the street from his New West Community Church at 322 Hospital Street.

"Our campaign doesn't say trans-people are a risk to anybody, it's saying predators are going to take advantage."

Protesters Candice Boer said many have been waiting their whole lives for something like Bill C-16.

"I want to be counted as one person who is opposing hatred," said Boer, who attended the protest.

Dirks, who — as part of the campaign — put up posters in Vancouver's West End with the message, 'woman means something,' staunchly defended his position on Sunday despite more than a dozen protesters.

Anglican priest Laurel Dykstra, who has trangender people in her congregation, said Bill C-16 needs support.

"I think that Bill C-16 absolutely guarantees rights that people need and deserve and I am honoured to be here to speak and to stand for trans-rights," she said.

As for Dirks, she believes he is distorting faith and religion with his campaign.

with files fromDeborah Goble.