TORONTO – An online story falsely claims Canadians now can be jailed simply for using an incorrect gender pronoun.
The article posted to The Daily Signal website said a law enacted last year would lead to hate crime charges against people who use an incorrect pronoun to describe a transgender person.
In addition to race, religion and sexual orientation, bill C-16 added gender identity and gender expression as areas that can be grounds for discrimination under Canada's Human Rights Act. It also amended the country's criminal code to add protections for transgender people against hate speech.
But experts say just using an incorrect pronoun isn't enough to qualify as criminal hate speech. "Absolutely not a chance," says University of Toronto law professor Brenda Cossman. "There is no criminalization of the misuse of pronouns."
Richard Moon, a University of Windsor professor who studies freedom of speech issues, says only speech that is "extreme in character" would qualify as criminal. He says the person uttering the words must be found to have "willfully promoted hatred."
This is part of The Associated Press' ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.
Find all AP Fact Checks here: https://www.apnews.com/tag/APFactCheck
Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APFactCheck