Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has said that a trade deal with the US should represent “shared values,” as Republicans attempt to strip LGBT+ rights protections from the agreement.
40 US Republican lawmakers penned a letter to President Donald Trump on Friday (November 16) urging him to gut LGBT+ protections in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a proposed trilateral trade deal between the three countries.
Wording 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, gender identity.”
The Republicans, who have long opposed efforts to introduce federal anti-LGBT discrimination protections in Congress, claimed that the deal would undermine the right of the United States “to decide when, whether and how to tackle issues of civil rights, protected classes and workplace rights.”
Republican lawmakers protested the inclusion of LGBT+ protections in the USMCA as “inappropriate and insulting to our sovereignty.”
The letter states: “We are deeply concerned… by the unprecedented inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity language for the first time in a Free Trade Agreement.”
It adds: “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.”
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However, Canadian leader Justin Trudeau, a strong advocate of LGBT+ rights, defended the wording of the current deal, which he said reflects “shared values.”
Justin Trudeau: Deal is ‘good agreement that represents Canadian values’
According to the Toronto Star, he told reporters at a summit on Sunday: “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.”
The deal is subject to approval from Congress in the US, and it could fail to pass if the Republicans oppose it.
Trudeau added: “We’re going to let the American officials and administration focus on their ratification process while we focus on ours.”
US lags behind Canada and Mexico on LGBT+ anti-discrimination laws
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.