Toronto: Canada's federal Department of Justice has made a conscious decision to intervene in a case that challenges the validity of thousands of marriages. According to their arguments same-sex marriages performed in Canada between non-citizens whose countries of origin do not recognize marriage equality are not now and have never been legally valid. A direct insult to gays and lesbians both in Canada and abroad, this action reflects either complete neglect of the government's responsibilities over the past seven years, or a direct attack on the principle of equality in Canadian law.
Since 2004, governments across Canada have issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples coming from abroad. Never were any of these couples informed that Canada had no intention of recognizing the marriage licenses it was issuing.
Egale Canada calls on the federal government to come clean: have thousands of same-sex couples been misled by Canadian officials for nearly eight years, or has the federal government adopted a policy of surreptitiously attacking the rights of gays and lesbians through disingenuous legal interventions?
This most recent case comes as the federal government is also intervening in an Ontario case to argue that two Canadian citizens who entered into a same-sex civil partnership in the U.K. -- an equivalent to marriage in all but name -- are not legally married in Canada and therefore cannot be granted a divorce.
"Not only does this throw into question hundreds of legal rights such as property, spousal support and child custody, it is a betrayal of basic human rights," said Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale Canada. "It is indefensible for the Government of Canada to play politics with people's human dignity."
Egale is Canada's LGBT human rights organization: advancing equality, diversity, education, and justice.
For more information:
Helen Kennedy, Executive Director, 416-964-7887 ext. 21
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