October 18, 2016 / 4:55 PM / a year ago

Canadian police investigate threats against transgender students amid rising tensions over rights

NEW YORK, Oct 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Police are investigating online threats against transgender students at a Canadian university, authorities said on Tuesday, amid rising tension over transgender rights as the government tries to push through legislation to protect the minority group.

The threats against University of Toronto students come after recent campus protests in response to comments by a professor and critic of a bill to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and expression.

Denio Lourenco, 21, said he was among those who had received threats and disparaging messages.

“There will be blood. Be very afraid,” said one Facebook message addressed to Lourenco, who is also the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer coordinator at the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union.

Earlier this year, Canada’s Liberal government introduced Bill C-16 to protect transgender people against discrimination.

In a video he posted on YouTube, University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson criticised the use of genderless pronouns, such as “they”, to refer to transgender people - igniting student protests.

The University of Toronto condemned “the targeting of individuals and communities on the basis of gender identity” in an email sent to all students.

A spokeswoman for the university said she could not comment on how many students had received threats due to the ongoing investigation.

So far Canada has not experienced as intense a controversy over the transgender rights as its southern neighbor the United States, where controversy over access to public bathrooms in college dorms are the latest front in a battle over transgender rights. (Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

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