LGBT rights in Canada

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LGBT rights in Canada
Canada (orthographic projection).svg
Same-sex sexual intercourse legal status Legal since 1969;
unequal age of consent for anal sex (regardless of gender) found discriminatory by some provincial courts
Gender identity/expression Change of legal sex available in all provinces and territories (under varying rules without sex reassignment surgery).
Military service LGBT people allowed to serve openly since 1992
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation since 1996 and gender identity or expression since 2017 explicitly protected nationwide.[1][2] (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage nationwide since 2005
Adoption Legal nationwide (specifics may vary between provinces and territories)

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in Canada are some of the most advanced in the Americas and in the world. During the British North American era, same-sex sexual activity between men was a capital crime and resulted in the death penalty. However, there is no surviving record of any executions, and political figures were reluctant to enforce the law.[3] The death penalty was eventually repealed and a broader law involving gross indecency between men was often enforced in the late 19th century.[4] During the early to mid 20th-century, the law often portrayed homosexual men as sex offenders until the infamous court case of Everett George Klippert, who admitted to having sex with multiple men, resulted in his life imprisonment. Same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults was soon decriminalized in 1969 as a result of legislation introduced in 1967, with then-Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada Pierre Trudeau (who eventually became the 15th Prime Minister of Canada) famously commenting, "There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation."[5]

Although same-sex couples began being granted domestic partnerships similar to that of married opposite-sex couples, same-sex marriage was already legalized in eight of ten provinces and one of three territories beginning in 2003. On July 20, 2005, Canada became the first country outside Europe and the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide after the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act. Same-sex adoption has also been legal in all provinces and territories under varying rules. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in employment, housing and public and private accommodations is banned nationwide. Transgender people are allowed to change their legal gender in all provinces and territories under varying rules. Under Section 159 of the Criminal Code, the age of consent for anal sex is currently unequal at 18 for both homosexuals and heterosexuals whilst oral sex and vaginal sex remains at 16, which has been found discriminatory by many political figures, publications, provincial and federal courts.[6][7] On November 15, 2016, the Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, introduced a bill to repeal Section 159 of the Criminal Code.[8]

Canada has frequently been referred to as one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world, with Canada's largest cities Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa featuring their own gay villages and being named among the most gay-friendly cities in the world.[9] Recent polls have indicated that a large majority of Canadians support same-sex marriage.[10]


Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Canada since 1969.

Constitutional framework[edit]

Enforcement mechanism[edit]

The rights of LGBT Canadians are now as well protected as those of other Canadians largely due to several court decisions decided under Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that was included in the Constitution of Canada in 1982, with Section 15 coming into effect in 1985.

Some of the cases were funded under the Federal Government's Court Challenges Program,[11] which in 1985 was expanded to fund test cases challenging federal legislation in relation to the equality rights guaranteed by the Charter. There has also been some funding to challenge provincial laws under a variety of programs, but its availability has varied considerably from province to province.[12]

Equality rights[edit]

The Constitution of Canada does not explicitly grant or deny any right to LGBT people, and Section 15 of the Charter prohibits the main types of discrimination to which LGBT Canadians may be subject. Section 15(1) reads:

Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability."

Section 15 was written so as to protect against discrimination generally, with the "enumerated" grounds of prohibited discrimination (race, sex, etc.) being only examples instead of a comprehensive list. In a landmark ruling in 1995 in the case of Egan v. Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that sexual orientation was implicitly included in section 15 as an "analogous ground" and is therefore a prohibited ground of discrimination.

The grounds "sex" and "physical disability," have been interpreted to include transsexuality and HIV/AIDS (see discussion below).[13]

Section 15 applies to all laws and law enforcement (including government programs defined by laws) by all governments in Canada, but the Charter does not give rights against the private sector. For example, a discrimination complaint against a restaurant would need to be filed under federal or provincial anti-discrimination legislation and not the Charter.


The entire Charter is also subject to a general exception in section 1 that allows "such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society." The Oakes Test sets out the Supreme Court of Canada's interpretation of this exception. This analysis may consider conflicting Charter rights. For example, the right to equality based on sexual orientation under section 15 may be limited by the freedom of religion under section 2, and vice versa. It may also be limited by the right to denominational (religious) schools under Section 93 of the Constitution.

In addition, Section 15 and a few other Charter sections are subject to the "notwithstanding clause" of the Charter that allows governments to declare that a law is exempt from the Charter for up to five years, which exemption may be renewed any number of times. In 2000, Alberta amended its Marriage Act to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.[14] The law included a notwithstanding clause, but the amendment was nevertheless invalid since the capacity to marry is a matter of exclusive federal jurisdiction according to the Constitution.[15] The notwithstanding clause can only be used to make exceptions to the Charter; it cannot change the federal division of powers. In any case, the five-year exemption period expired in 2005.

The notwithstanding clause has never been used by the Federal Government; it is generally believed that this is because it would constitute a politically embarrassing admission that the law in question violated human rights. On December 15, 2005, before his party formed a government, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that his Government would resubmit the same-sex marriage issue to Parliament without relying on the notwithstanding clause, but his first-appointed Minister of Justice, Vic Toews, publicly stated that he supported the use of the notwithstanding clause in some cases.[16] In spite of Stephen Harper's statements, his Government did not attempt to re-open the issue of same-sex marriage. "On December 7, 2006, members of the House of Commons voted down a Conservative motion to reopen the debate on the definition of marriage. The motion called on the Government to introduce legislation to restore the traditional definition of marriage without affecting civil unions and while respecting existing same-sex marriages."[17]

Anal sex law[edit]

Section 159 of the Criminal Code criminalizes every act of anal intercourse, but provides exceptions for a husband and wife, and any two persons 18 years of age or older. These exceptions do not apply if a third person is present, or if the anal intercourse takes place anywhere but in private.[18] However, courts in Ontario,[19] Quebec,[20] British Columbia,[21] Nova Scotia,[22] and Alberta[23] have independently declared Section 159 to be unconstitutional as violations of the equality provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

On November 15, 2016, the Liberal Government introduced legislation to repeal Section 159 of the Criminal Code. The bill, C-32, would have ensured that all forms of consensual sexual activity be treated equally under the law.[24] The bill, however, stalled despite all political parties agreeing to it. It was later incorporated into a new bill, C-75, which was tabled in late March 2018. C-75 would modernize aspects of the Criminal Code and make dramatic changes to criminal court proceedings, as well as repeal Section 159.[25] The Canadian Government has said: "We heard from the community that [Section 159] is a piece of archaic legislation that has continued to affect young men, so it’s important to get this debated and passed through the house".[26]

Apology and expungement scheme[edit]

On November 28, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a formal apology in Parliament to members of the LGBT community:[27]

It is with shame and sorrow and deep regret for the things we have done that I stand here today and say: We were wrong. We apologize. I am sorry. We are sorry... To members of the LGBTQ2 communities, young and old, here in Canada and around the world: You are loved. And we support you. To the trailblazers who have lived and struggled, and to those who have fought so hard to get us to this place: thank you for your courage, and thank you for lending your voices. I hope you look back on all you have done with pride. It is because of your courage that we’re here today, together, and reminding ourselves that we can, and must, do better. For the oppression of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit communities, we apologize. On behalf of the government, Parliament, and the people of Canada: We were wrong. We are sorry. And we will never let this happen again.

— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 28 November 2017

On June 21, 2018, the Governor General granted royal assent to Bill C-66, which allows men who were convicted of homosexual acts prior to their legalisation in 1969 to have their "convictions" erased from their criminal records.[28][29]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Between 2002 and 2005, courts in several provinces and one territory ruled that restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples constitutes a form of discrimination that is prohibited by Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and struck down the federal definition, requiring that those jurisdictions register same-sex marriages. The first ruling required the Federal Government to draft legislation recognizing same-sex marriage, but later rulings brought the new definition into effect immediately in the jurisdictions concerned. Canadian jurisdictions thereby became the third in the world to allow same-sex marriage, after the Netherlands and Belgium.

By July 2005, same-sex marriages were legally recognized in all provinces and territories except Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, encompassing over 85% of Canada's population of roughly 31 million people.

The Federal Government announced in the summer of 2003 that it would not appeal the decisions, and would draft legislation to allow same-sex marriages across the country. The bill was put before the Supreme Court of Canada to ensure that it would withstand a Charter challenge by those who oppose same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court heard arguments on the draft legislation in October 2004. The bill was passed by Parliament in July 2005 making Canada the fourth country to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, and the first to do so without a residency requirement. (See Civil Marriage Act)

One recent study by Mark W. Lehman suggests that between 1997 and 2004, Canadian public opinion on legalizing same-sex marriage underwent a dramatic shift: moving from minority support to majority support and that this support was the result of a significant shift in positive feelings towards gays and lesbians.[30]

Discrimination protections[edit]

"March of Hearts" rally for same-sex marriage in Canada on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, March 6, 2004.

Enforcement mechanism[edit]

The Federal Government and every province and territory in Canada has enacted human rights acts that prohibit discrimination and harassment on several grounds (e.g. race, sex, gender identity or expression, marital status, religion, disability, age and sexual orientation) in private and public sector employment, housing, public services and publicity. Some acts also apply to additional activities. These acts are quasi-constitutional laws that override ordinary laws as well as regulations, contracts and collective agreements.[31] They are typically enforced by human rights commissions and tribunals through a complaint investigation, conciliation and arbitration process that is slow, but free, and includes protection against retaliation. A lawyer is not required.

Grounds for prohibiting discrimination[edit]

In 1977, the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is both a charter of rights and a human rights act, was amended to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Thus, the province of Quebec became the first jurisdiction in the world larger than a city or county to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in the private and public sectors. In 1984, in Manitoba, LGBT activists pushed for inclusion of protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation with tactics including a 59-day hunger strike by Richard North.[32] In 1987, Manitoba passed the Human Rights Code which included protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation.[33] Today, sexual orientation is explicitly mentioned as a ground of prohibited discrimination in the human rights acts of all jurisdictions in Canada.

On June 20, 1996, the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) was amended to include sexual orientation as a protected ground. The CHRA guarantees the right to equality, equal opportunity, fair treatment and an environment free from discrimination in employment and the provision of goods, services, facilities or accommodation within federal jurisdiction.[34]

Sexual orientation is not defined in any human rights act, but is widely interpreted as meaning heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality. It does not include transsexuality or transgender people.[35] The Federal Court of Canada has stated that sexual orientation "is a precise legal concept that deals specifically with an individual's preference in terms of gender" in sexual relationships, and is not vague or overly broad.[36] The Ontario Human Rights Commission has adopted the following definition:

Sexual orientation is more than simply a 'status' that an individual possesses; it is an immutable personal characteristic that forms part of an individual's core identity. Sexual orientation encompasses the range of human sexuality from gay and lesbian to bisexual and heterosexual orientations.[37]

All human rights laws in Canada also explicitly prohibit discrimination based on disability, which has been interpreted to include AIDS, ARC and being HIV positive, and membership in a high-risk group for HIV infection.[13]

Since June 2017, all provinces and territories of Canada explicitly prohibits within their human rights, equal opportunity and/or anti-discrimination legislation discrimination based on gender identity or gender identity or expression.[38] Previously, human rights commissions considered that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity.[39][40][41]

The Ontario Human Rights Commission defines gender identity as follows:

Gender identity is linked to an individual's intrinsic sense of self and, particularly the sense of being male or female. Gender identity may or may not conform to a person's birth assigned sex. The personal characteristics that are associated with gender identity include self-image, physical and biological appearance, expression, behaviour and conduct, as they relate to gender. … Individuals whose birth-assigned sex does not conform to their gender identity include transsexuals, transgenderists, intersexed persons and cross-dressers. A person's gender identity is fundamentally different from and not determinative of their sexual orientation.[41]

In 2005, NDP MP Bill Siksay introduced a bill in the House of Commons to explicitly add gender identity and expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act. He reintroduced the bill in 2006. In May 2009, he introduced it again, with additional provisions to add gender identity and expression to the hate crimes provisions of the Criminal Code.[42] In February 2011, it passed third reading in the House of Commons with support from all parties, but was not considered in the Senate before Parliament was dissolved for the 41st Canadian federal election. Two bills—C-276 and C-279—on the subject have been introduced in the 41st Canadian Parliament, by the Liberals and the NDP respectively. The NDP's bill, C-279 passed second reading on June 6, 2012.[43] However, the bill again died on the Senate order paper when the 2015 federal election was called. In May 2016, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (C-16) was introduced to the House of Commons of Canada, to add and include "gender identity or expression" in the Canadian Human Rights Act.[44] In June 2017, the Canadian Parliament passed the bill and it received royal assent a week later. The law went into effect immediately.[45][46] The bill was approved 67-11 in the Senate and 248-40 in the House of Commons.

LGBT discrimination table[edit]

Territory/Province of Canada Sexual orientation Gender identity Gender expression
Canada (federal) Yes (Since 1996)[34] Yes (Since 2017)[45] Yes (Since 2017)[45]
Northwest Territories Yes (Since 2002) Yes (Since 2002) No
Nunavut Yes (Since 1999) Yes (Since 2017)[1] Yes (Since 2017)
Yukon Yes (Since 1987) Yes (Since 2017)[38][47] Yes (Since 2017)[47]
British Columbia Yes (Since 1992) Yes (Since 2016)[48][2] Yes (Since 2016)
Newfoundland and Labrador Yes (Since 1995) Yes (Since 2013)[48] Yes (Since 2013)
Alberta Yes (Since 2009)[49] Yes (Since 2015)[48] Yes (Since 2015)
Quebec Yes (Since 1977) Yes (Since 2016)[50] Yes (Since 2016)
Prince Edward Island Yes (Since 1998) Yes (Since 2013)[51] Yes (Since 2013)
Manitoba Yes (Since 1987) Yes (Since 2012)[52] Yes/No (Not explicitly included but implicitly included since at least 2016)[53]
New Brunswick Yes (Since 1992)[48] Yes (Since 2017)[54] Yes (Since 2017)[54]
Nova Scotia Yes (Since 1991) Yes (Since 2012)[55] Yes (Since 2012)
Saskatchewan Yes (Since 1993) Yes (Since 2014)[56] No
Ontario Yes (Since 1986)[34] Yes (Since 2012)[57][58] Yes (Since 2012)

Activities where equality guaranteed[edit]

LGBT flag map of Canada

Accordingly, discrimination, including harassment, based on real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV/AIDS status is prohibited throughout Canada in private and public sector employment, housing, services provided to the public and publicity. All aspects of employment are covered, including benefits for spouses and long-term partners. Examples of services include credit, insurance, government programs, hotels and schools open to the public. Schools open to the public are liable for anti-gay name-calling and bullying by students or staff.[59] LGBT Canadians have been allowed to serve in the military since the Douglas case was settled in 1992.[60]

Prohibited discrimination occurs not only when someone is treated less favourably or is harassed based on a prohibited ground, but also when a uniform policy or practice has a perhaps unintended disproportionately adverse effect based on the ground. This is called "adverse effect discrimination."[61] For example, it might in theory be discriminatory for schools open to the public to require parental consent for student participation in all school clubs, assuming that students are less likely to ask for or get permission to participate in gay–straight alliance clubs.


Human rights acts have no exceptions specifically for sexual orientation or gender identity, however, human rights acts typically include an exception for "bona fide requirements" or qualifications that applies to most grounds (e.g. sex, sexual orientation, disability), but only when the stringent requirements of the Meiorin Test are met.

Since human rights acts are quasi-constitutional laws, it is not possible for job applicants or unions, for example, to sign away equality rights.[31] However, other laws may explicitly say that they apply notwithstanding a human rights act. Furthermore, some collective agreements include broad non-discrimination provisions that actually expand upon the rights listed in human rights acts.


Since the 1985 entrenchment of Section 15 of the Charter, Canadian LGBT people have achieved an astonishing range of judicially made rights gains in most policy areas, including immigration, housing, employment, health benefits, adoption, pensions, finances, hate crimes and marriage.

Schools and other educational institutions[edit]

Some schools have gay–straight alliances or similar groups to counter homophobia and bullying and provide support for LGBT students in school.

The rights of LGBT students and staff in an educational institution vary considerably depending on whether the institution is religious and/or open to the public, since human rights acts only partially prohibit discrimination against pupils of private schools and the Charter only partly prohibits discrimination by churches, associations and businesses, while section 2 of the Charter protects freedom of religion and section 93 of the Constitution recognizes the right to denominational schools in some provinces.

The curriculum of public schools, particularly in British Columbia, are now being amended to incorporate LGBT topics. In reality, implementation of curriculum varies from school division to school division and often from teacher to teacher.

Religious educational institutions may in many cases discriminate based on sexual orientation against students and staff according to religious doctrine. Nevertheless, if they rent facilities to the general public on a commercial basis without regard to their religion, they may not refuse to rent them to LGBT groups.[62] Controversially, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled in favour of denying accreditation to a religious university in 2018 due to its policies banning students who have had sex outside of marriage or gay sex.[63]

However, most educational institutions, including privately owned schools open to the general public, are public services. They are subject to human rights acts and are strictly required to not discriminate against staff or students based on all the prohibited grounds, including sexual orientation, HIV/AIDS (and transsexuality and transgenderism, see Grounds of prohibited discrimination above). They are strictly liable for harassment, name-calling and bullying of students and staff by staff on these grounds. In addition, as a result of the Jubran[59] decision, they are liable for most such behaviour by students. They may be liable for anti-gay bullying even if the victim is not gay, nor believed to be (e.g. when a bully knowingly makes a false claim that a girl is a lesbian so that she will be ostracized or bullied by others or pressured to have sex with a boy to prove otherwise).

Furthermore, it may not be enough for schools to progressively discipline bullies when this is ineffective. Schools are responsible for providing an educational environment that is free from discriminatory harassment, and this may require them to provide "resources to adopt a broader, educative approach to deal with the difficult issues of harassment, homophobia and discrimination."[59] The Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear an appeal from the Jubran decision, thus adding to its authoritativeness.

Public education governance bodies may place limits on the freedom of expression and the freedom of religion rights of teachers and school counsellors with respect to statements they may make regarding LGBT issues, both on and off the job. Teachers and school counsellors are considered to hold positions of trust and influence over young people and are required to ensure that their public statements do not impair public confidence in the school system or create an unwelcoming or intolerant school environment.[64][65]


As of 2006, few schools in Canada have implemented the Jubran requirements, and anti-gay bullying and name-calling by students.[66] The rate of suicide and depression among LGBT youths is higher than non-LGBT students and so to counter homophobia and bullying in school and to provide support to LGBT students, students in some schools have set up gay–straight alliances or similar groups,[67] sometimes with support from teachers associations.[68]

Conversion therapy[edit]

On May 22, 2015, Manitoban Health Minister Sharon Blady announced measures to stop conversion therapy in Manitoba. Blady said the province's human rights code prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation – including how health care services are provided.[69] Blady also stated that "it is the position of the Manitoba Government that conversion therapy can have no place in the province's public health-care system."[70]

In June 2015, the Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act (Bill 77) was made law in the province of Ontario. The act bans conversion therapy on minors and forbids it from being funded under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan public health care for anyone, of any age. The bill was introduced by Cheri DiNovo, a member of the Ontario New Democratic Party, and passed the Legislative Assembly with the support of all three major political parties.[71]

On June 6, 2018, the city councillors of Vancouver unanimously voted to prohibit conversion therapy by businesses, regardless of age. The business licence bylaw applies to all licence holders, including religious groups.[72][73]

As of August 2016, there have been calls to ban the practice in other provinces, including in Alberta.[74]

Blood donation[edit]

In 1977, a ban on gay and bi men donating blood was enacted.[75]

In 2013, this ban was partially lifted and allowed for men who have sexual contact with another man to donate blood after a five-year deferral period.[75]

In June 2016, Health Canada announced that the blood donation deferral period would be reduced to one year. The new criteria took effect on August 15, 2016.[75][76]

On August 15, 2016, Canadian Blood Services' new eligibility criteria for transgender people came into effect. This criteria states that transgender donors who have not had sex reassignment surgery will be asked questions based on their sex assigned at birth. They will be eligible to donate or be deferred based on these criteria. For example, trans women will be asked if they have had had sex with a man in the last 12 months. If the response is yes, they will be deferred for one year after their last sexual contact with a man. And donors who have had sex reassignment surgery will be deferred from donating blood for one year after their surgery. After that year, these donors will be screened in their affirmed gender.[77][78]

LGBT influence in national politics[edit]

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the 2015 Vancouver Pride parade, shortly after launching his election campaign.

In the House of Commons, four parties support LGBT rights with varying degrees. The New Democratic Party, Green Party, Bloc Québécois, and Liberal Party of Canada are the most vocal supporters of these rights. At its founding, the Conservative Party of Canada was largely opposed to LGBT rights, although some members, typically former members of the Progressive Conservative Party, have supported LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage. Former members of the Canadian Alliance have generally opposed expanded LGBT rights, and a former CA MP was rebuked for calls to re-criminalize homosexuality.[79] Since 2006, the Conservative Party has become a stronger advocate for LGBT rights in Canada and abroad.[80] In May 2016, Conservative Party delegates voted in favour of removing the definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman from the party's official policy document, effectively changing the party's official position on same-sex marriage from opposed to neutral.[81][82]

May 28, 2016 vote at the Conservative Party Convention[83][84]
Provinces/Territories Voted for (Delegates) Voted against (Delegates)
Ontario (ON) 300 142
British Columbia (BC) 228 77
Alberta (AB) 206 93
Quebec (QC) 112 26
Saskatchewan (SK) 53 61
Manitoba (MB) 56 44
Nova Scotia (NS) 33 4
Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) 17 6
New Brunswick (NB) 14 6
Territories (Yukon (YT), Northwest Territories (NT), and Nunavut (NU)) 11 2
Prince Edward Island (PEI) 6 1
Total 1,036 462

Svend Robinson is notable for having been the first MP to come out as gay, in spring 1988. He has since been followed by other gay and lesbian politicians in Parliament: fellow New Democrats Libby Davies, Bill Siksay, Philip Toone, Craig Scott and Dany Morin; Bloc Québécois MPs Réal Ménard and Raymond Gravel; and Liberal Party of Canada MPs Scott Brison, Mario Silva and Rob Oliphant, as well as Senators Laurier LaPierre and Nancy Ruth.

As of 2018, there are six members of the House of Commons and two senators who openly identify as gay or lesbian.

Chris Lea, leader of the Green Party of Canada from 1990 to 1996, was the first openly gay political party leader in Canada. Svend Robinson became in 1995 the first openly gay candidate for the leadership of a political party with representation in the House of Commons, although he was not successful. André Boisclair, the former leader of the Parti Québécois, became the first openly gay leader of a party with parliamentary representation in North America; Allison Brewer, former leader of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party, was also elected leader as an out lesbian.

The following provinces have had openly gay provincial cabinet ministers:[85] Ontario (Kathleen Wynne, George Smitherman, Glen Murray), British Columbia (Tim Stevenson, Lorne Mayencourt, Ted Nebbeling), and Manitoba (Jim Rondeau, Jennifer Howard). On January 26, 2013, Kathleen Wynne became the leader of the Liberal party of Ontario and premier of that province (the largest of the country's thirteen provinces and territories, with approximately 39% of the country's population). Following the Ontario provincial election in 2014, Kathleen Wynne became the first openly gay leader to be elected with a majority mandate in all the commonwealth jurisdictions.[86]

ProudPolitics, a cross-partisan organization dedicated to providing networking and fundraising assistance to LGBT politicians and candidates inspired by the American Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, was established in Toronto in 2013.[87]

On November 15, 2016, Randy Boissonnault, Liberal MP for Edmonton Centre, was named Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues to the Prime Minister. The role involves advising the Prime Minister "on the development and co-ordination of the Government of Canada's LGBTQ2 agenda" including protecting LGBT rights in Canada and addressing both present and historical discrimination.[88]

Summary table[edit]

Right Yes/No Note
Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes Since 1969
Equal age of consent Yes/No Unequal age of consent for anal sex regardless of sexual orientation. In British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, this law has been ruled unconstitutional.[21][22] (Repeal bill C-75 pending)[89]
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes Since 1996 for sexual orientation; since 2017 for gender identity or expression
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes Since 1996 for sexual orientation; since 2017 for gender identity or expression
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (including indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes Since 1996 for sexual orientation; since 2017 for gender identity or expression
Same-sex marriages Yes Nationwide since 2005; already previously legalized by 8 out of 10 provinces (BC and ON in 2003; MB, QC, NS, SK and NL in 2004; NB in 2005) and 1 out of 3 territories (YT in 2004)
Recognition of same-sex couples Yes Same-sex couples have been granted financial and immigration benefits since 2000
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples Yes Legal in all provinces and territories under varying rules (first jurisdiction 1996, last jurisdiction 2011)
Joint adoption by same-sex couples Yes
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military Yes An order which had excluded LGBT persons from military services for 25 years was repealed in 1992, thus allowing LGBT people to serve openly in the Canadian Forces free from discrimination and harassment
Right to change legal gender Yes Since 2017, all 13 jurisdictions of Canada do not require sexual reassignment surgery for changes to sex markers on government forms. More precise regulations vary by province and territory, respectively.
Coverage for sex reassignment surgery Yes/No In several provinces (to a variable extent), but none of the territories[90][91]
Transgender identity declassified as an illness No All Canadian provinces/territories are still using DSM 4 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), DSM 5 unapproved
Conversion therapy banned on minors Yes/No Since 2015 in Manitoba and Ontario; since 2018 in Vancouver[73]
Access to IVF for lesbians Yes
Equal access to surrogacy for all couples Yes Since 2004, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act has prohibited commercial surrogacy for all couples (regardless of sexual orientation).[92] However, altruistic surrogacy is permitted and surrogate mothers may be reimbursed for some expenses. Quebec law allows neither altruistic nor commercial surrogacy (but doesn't explicitly forbid it, and Quebec has reimbursed gay men for surrogacy costs).[93]
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples Yes/No Since 2013, in Alberta and British Columbia only
Gay criminal records expunged Yes Since 2018
MSM allowed to donate blood Yes/No Since 2016, one year deferral period

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Nunavut passes trans-rights law
  2. ^ a b Transgender changes to B.C. Human Rights Code pass unanimously
  3. ^ ""Sodomites" in Canada before 1841 - The Drummer's Revenge". The Drummer's Revenge. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  4. ^ "The End to the Death Penalty for "Sodomy" in Canada - The Drummer's Revenge". The Drummer's Revenge. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Trudeau: 'There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation'". CBC News. 
  6. ^ "CanLII - 1995 CanLII 8924 (ON CA)". Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Liberal government to repeal section of Criminal Code on anal intercourse". CTV News. Retrieved November 15, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Bill C-32: An Act related to the repeal of section 159 of the Criminal Code". November 15, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Ottawa introduces first 'Gay Village'". CBC News. 
  10. ^ Same-Sex Marriage: Citizens in 16 Countries Assess Their Views on Same-Sex Marriage for a Total Global Perspective Archived March 14, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Court Challenges Program of Canada Archived April 11, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. URL accessed on March 10, 2006.
  12. ^ Arne Peltz & Betsy Gibbons, "Deep Discount Justice: The Challenge of Going to Court with a Charter Claim and No Money" Archived May 9, 2006, at the Wayback Machine., 1999. URL accessed on March 10, 2006.
  13. ^ a b Walter S. Tarnopolsky, William F. Pentney & John D. Gardner (eds.), Discrimination and the Law, (Thomson, Scarborough, Ontario, 2004) page 7A-21 (Discrimination) (2003-Rel. 7) ISBN 0-88820-214-8
  14. ^ Marriage Act Archived January 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., R.S.A. 2000, c. M-5. URL accessed on March 10, 2006.
  15. ^ Reference re Same-Sex Marriage, [2004] 3 S.C.R. 698, 2004 SCC 79 (CanLII) URL accessed on March 11, 2006.
  16. ^ Robert Sheppard, "Reality Check: Notwithstanding Notwithstanding" CBC TV, December 20, 2005. URL accessed on February 17, 2006.
  17. ^ "CBC News In Depth: Same-sex rights". December 8, 2006. Archived from the original on January 19, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Criminal Code (R.S., 1985, c. C-46), Section 159, Subsection (1)". Department of Justice Canada. May 21, 2010. 
  19. ^ "''R v CM'', 1995 CanLII 8924 (ON C.A.)". Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
  20. ^ "''R c Roy'', 1998 CanLII 12775 (QC C.A.)". Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
  21. ^ a b From anal sex to sorcery
  22. ^ a b Gay Canadians still face an inequality which may surprise you
  23. ^ "''R v Roth'', 2002 ABQB 145". Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
  24. ^ Kathleen Harris (November 15, 2016). "Liberals to revamp 'discriminatory' age law for anal intercourse - CBC News". CBC News. Retrieved November 15, 2016. 
  25. ^ Bill C-75
  26. ^ Liberals’ justice reform bill leaves out some queer people and sex workers, activists say, Daily Xtra, May 2, 2018
  27. ^ 'I Am Sorry. We Are Sorry.' Read Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Formal Apology to Canada's LGBTQ Community
  28. ^ Bill to expunge gay-sex criminal records comes into effect in Canada, PinkNews, June 21, 2018
  29. ^ C-66
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  32. ^ "University of Manitoba - Libraries - Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives - Gay Rights". Retrieved September 26, 2017. 
  33. ^ Justice, Manitoba. "Manitoba Laws". Retrieved September 26, 2017. 
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  37. ^ Canada, Ontario (Human Rights Commission), "Policy on Discrimination and Harassment because of Sexual Orientation" 18pp. (2000) Accessed on March 3, 2006.
  38. ^ a b Yukon passes trans-rights bill
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  40. ^ Canada, British Columbia (Ministry of Justice), "Human Rights in British Columbia", 2pp. (2003). Accessed March 3, 2006.
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  43. ^ "Gender identity bill passes second reading". June 6, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2012. 
  44. ^ BILL C-16 An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code
  45. ^ a b c An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code
  46. ^ Canada shows leadership in advancing human rights
  47. ^ a b Act to Amend the Human Rights Act and the Vital Statistics Act (2017)
  48. ^ a b c d Rights of LGBTI persons
  50. ^ An Act to strengthen the fight against transphobia and improve the situation of transgender minors in particular
  51. ^ P.E.I. transgender community applauds ID changes
  52. ^ Overview of LGBT Human Rights in Canada
  54. ^ a b New Brunswick trans-rights bills pass final reading
  55. ^ An Act to Amend Chapter 214 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Human Rights Act, to Protect the Rights of Transgendered Persons
  56. ^ Saskatchewan amends human rights code
  57. ^ Gender identity and gender expression
  58. ^ Bill 33, Toby's Act (Right to be Free from Discrimination and Harassment Because of Gender Identity or Gender Expression), 2012
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  60. ^ Douglas v. Canada [1993] 1 F.C. 264 (Fed. Ct) Accessed on February 18, 2006.
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  63. ^ Canada's Supreme Court rules LGBT rights trump religious freedom, BBC News, June 15, 2018
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  69. ^ Manitoba works to ban conversion therapy for LGBT youth
  70. ^ Conversion therapy has no place in Manitoba health care: health minister
  71. ^ This Canadian Province Just Banned LGBT Conversion Therapy June 4, 2015, Buzzfeed News
  72. ^ Business Prohibition By-law No. 5156
  73. ^ a b Vancouver council votes unanimously to ban conversion therapy
  74. ^ Expert calls on province to ban conversion therapy in Alberta
  75. ^ a b c Men Who Have Sex with Men
  76. ^ Canadian Blood Donation Deferral For Gay Men Shortened, But Not Ended
  77. ^ "Eligibility criteria for trans individuals". Retrieved June 30, 2017. 
  78. ^ "Canadian Blood Services places restrictions on transgender donors". Retrieved June 30, 2017. 
  79. ^ Canadian Alliance MP Larry Spencer Alliance MP suspended over anti-gay remarks
  80. ^ Tristin Hopper (September 22, 2012). "How Canada's Conservative Party has become a champion of gay rights - National Post". National Post. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  81. ^ Janyce McGregor (May 28, 2016). "'Freedom and respect': Conservatives strike marriage definition from party policy - CBC News". CBC News. Retrieved November 15, 2016. 
  82. ^ Jennifer Choi (CBC) (May 28, 2016). "Conservatives have officially scraped the following section from party policy on marriage. #cpc16 (Twitter)". Retrieved February 5, 2017. 
  83. ^ Jim Finnigan (May 28, 2016). "Same-sex marriage policy passes at #cpc16! A great day for conservatives! #cdnpoli (Twitter)". Retrieved February 5, 2017. 
  84. ^ Herman Nilsson (May 28, 2016). "#cpc16 WE WIN @VanCentreCPC (Twitter)". Retrieved February 5, 2017. 
  85. ^ "Running for nomination," Perceptions, April 16, 2003
  86. ^ "Ontario election 2014: Liberals return to power with majority". CBC, June 12, 2014.
  87. ^ "Ontario group looking for politically engaged gays". Xtra!, May 10, 2013.
  88. ^ Dylan C Robertson (November 15, 2016). "Feds name gay MP as 'LGBTQ2 issues' advisor - Daily Xtra". Daily Xtra. Retrieved November 15, 2016. 
  89. ^ C-75
  90. ^ "Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) Backgrounder | Egale". Retrieved June 25, 2016. 
  91. ^ "N.B. Will Cover Gender-Confirming Surgery For Transgender People". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 25, 2016. 
  92. ^ "Prohibitions related to Surrogacy". Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  93. ^ "Quebec to reimburse gay men for surrogacy costs". April 24, 2014. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]