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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages and other LGBT matters in Canada

Timeline of GLBT rights in
Canada from mid-2005 until now:

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This topic is continued here from a previous essay

lesbian couple2005 to now: Important milestones in lesbian/gay/bisexual rights in Canada:

The following events occurred after the passage on 2005-JUL-20 of federal Bill C-38, which legalized gay marriages (a.k.a. same-sex marriages) available across Canada:

  • 2005-AUG-19: Prince Edward Island: Dr. Chris Zarow and Constance Majeau, a same-sex couple from California,  successfully petitioned the provincial government of PEI -- one of the maritime provinces on the East coast of Canada -- to allow them to marry. They received a marriage license on the morning of AUG-19 and were married that afternoon. For the first time in history, any qualifying couple, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, could obtain a marriage license in any province or territory in Canada, then marry, and then have their status registered. More details

  • Week of 2006-DEC-03: Regressive legislation fails: The Conservatives, led by Stephen Harper, formed a majority government after the 2006 elections. Harper announced that his party was planning to introduce a motion to Parliament asking whether the Members of Parliament wish to have legislation introduced to prevent loving, committed same-sex couples from marrying in the future. It was introduced, voted upon and rejected. More details.

  • 2007-JUN-18: Same-sex relationships and the Anglican Church of Canada: The denomination held its 38th General Synod. the theme was: "Draw the circle wide; draw it wider still." They came very close to authorizing resolution A186, which would authorize: "... the blessing of committed same-sex unions." That is a same-sex couple would marry in a civil ceremony and have their union blessed by the church. The clergy and laity voted in favor of the resolution. However, the bishops voted against it by a very close margin 21 to 19. Since all three orders had to approve the resolution, it did not pass. The Synod meets every three years, and so the resolution will be reintroduced in 2010. More details.

  • 2008: The conservatives, led by Stephen Harper were returned to power in their second minority government in a row. Little, if any, progress was made in LGBT rights.

  • 2009-SEP-19: LGBT history: The Queer Hall of Fame was opened Vancouver's Qmunity -- B.C.'s LGBT resource centre. Five persons active in GLBT rights in Canada were inducted. More details.
  • 2011: The Conservatives won an absolute majority in Parliament. Again, little progress was made in LGBT rights.

  • 2014-JUN: Public opinon poll: According to an IPSOS poll, gay marriage Is supported by 63% of Canadian adults. Another of adults 12% support legal recognition of same-sex relationships in the form of civil unions, but not marriage. This places Canada slightly ahead of other developed nations which average 71% in favor of legal recognition of same-sex relationships, including gay marriage and/or civil unions. 1

  • 2015: The Liberal Party of Canada under Justin Trudeau won a majority of seats in Parliament. Hope increases for future progress in LGBT rights in Canada.

  • 2016-JUN-01: Pride flag flies over Parliament buildings: This was the first day of pride month. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the rainbow flag adopted by the LGBT community on a temporary flagpole in front of the Centre Block at Parliament. Members of Parliament from of all of the political parties were present. He said:

    "This is a great day for Canada and it's part of a long series of milestones this country has hit over the years. It hasn't been easy, it hasn't been automatic, a lot of people fought for a long time for this day to happen."

    "Canada is united in its defence of rights and it's standing up for LGBTQ rights. And quite frankly, we still have more work to do." 2

    The reference to "more work" refers to a new transgender rights bill which would extend uniform protections to transgender persons and transsexuals across Canada. Some areas in Canada have laws protecting transgender persons, but coverage is spotty and non-uniform.

  • 2016-JUL-03: Prime Minister Trudeau marches in Toronto Pride parade: The parade was dedicated to the 49 victims of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. Referring to the victims, Aaron GlynWilliams, Co-Chair of Pride Toronto’s board of directors wrote on the group's web site:

"We will not respond to hate with hate. We will mourn and hold these beautiful family members in our hearts, as we continue to fight violence and discrimination against our community."

Trudeau had marched in previous Pride parades, but this is the first time as Prime Minister. He carried a rainbow flag which contained elements of the Canadian flag:

LGBT flag

Katleen Wynne, who is the Premier of Ontario and the first openly gay elected Premier in Canada, and John Tory, the Mayor of Toronto, marched together with Trudeau. 3

  • 2016-NOV-15: Criminal Code amendment: The Liberal federal government introduced bill C-32, If passed, it would repeal Section 159 of the Criminal Code. It currently criminalizes all anal intercourse except for consensual sexual activities in private, by either a married couple or by two persons 18 years or older. The lower age limit for unmarried persons engaging in sexual activities other than anal sex is 16 years. Courts in Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec have independently declared Section 159 to be unconstitutional because the courts found that Section 159 violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- Canada's constitution.

    In June, Douglas Elliott, lawyer and gay rights activist, co-authored a report by Egale Canada Human Rights Trust which called for the repeal of Section 159. He said:

    "Every lawyer in Canada knows that is unconstitutional. I think most well-informed parliamentarians know that it’s unconstitutional and yet they’ve never done their job and taken it off the books." 4

Gwen Landolt, spokesperson for a conservative group REAL Women of Canada wants to preserve Section 159. She said that anal intercourse carries different risks than vaginal sex and that if 159 is repealed, adolescent males will be unprotected. She did not extend her concern to adolescent females. She commented:

    "If you want to protect, there has got to be a prohibition somewhere." 4

In her comment, she apparently did not mention the possibility of inclusive youth sex education.

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More developments are expected in the future, particularly protection under
law for transgender persons and the gradual acceptance of gay marriage by
additional religious denominations and faith groups.

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Site navigation:
"SSM" means "same-sex marriage"

Home > Rel. info. > Basic > Marriage > SSM menu > SSM submenu > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality> SSM menu > SSM submenu > here

Notes and references:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "As World Pride Kicks Off in Toronto, Canada Poll Shows Strong Majority (71%) Among 15 Developed Nations Support Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Couples," IPSOS at http://www.ipsos-na.com/
  2. John Paul Tasker, "Justin Trudeau raises Pride flag on Parliament Hill for 1st time," CBC News, 2016-JUN-01, at: http://www.cbc.ca/
  3. "Trudeau makes history in Toronto Pride parade,"
  4. Joanna Smith, "Ottawa to repeal section of Criminal Code on anal intercourse," The Globe and Mail, 2016-NOV-14, at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2016-NOV-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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