Common-law unions and civil marriage between same sex partners

Les couples de même sexe ont acquis le droit de s’aimer et de s’unir. Il aura fallu un long cheminement avant que ces couples puissent s’unir dans toutes les juridictions au Canada, par des unions de fait ou le mariage civil.

1999 – La Cour suprême rend une décision incluant les conjoints du même sexe dans les unions de fai.

11 avril 2000 – Le Parlement canadien a adopté Loi C-23 sur la modernisation de certains régimes d'avantages et d'obligations. Cette loi accorde aux conjoints et conjointes des couples de même sexe, les mêmes avantages sociaux et fiscaux que les couples hétérosexuels dans des unions de fait.

Did you know?

Canada was the 4th country in the world to legalize civil marriage between same-sex partners, after the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain

Les mariages civils entre conjoints de même sexe ont été légalement reconnus dans les différentes provinces et territoires aux dates suivantes :

10 juin 2003 : Ontario

8 juillet 2003 : Colombie-Britannique

19 mars 2004 : Québec

14 juillet 2004 : Yukon

16 septembre 2004 : Manitoba

24 septembre 2004 : Nouvelle-Écosse

5 novembre 2004 : Saskatchewan

21 décembre 2004 : Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador

23 juin 2005 : Nouveau-Brunswick

20 juillet 2005 : Légalisation des mariages homosexuels au Canada – Cette Loi sur le mariage civil du Canada l’a de fait rendu légal en Alberta, à l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard, au Nunavut et dans les Territoires du Nord-Ouest, qui n’avaient pas encore légiféré à cet effet.

June 10, 2003 – First same-sex couple to marry in Canada

The same day that Ontario’s same-sex marriage law came into effect, Michael Leshner and Michael Stark of Toronto, nicknamed “the Michaels” by the media, are legally married.

June 30, 2006 – Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

Jason Tree and David Connors are the first homosexual RCMP officers to marry.

Hear the report

According to Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census:

  • There are 72,880 same-sex couples, which is close to 1% of all couples, in Canada
  • One-third of same-sex couples (33.4%) were married, whereas the rest (66.6%) were in common-law unions
  • Approximately one same-sex couple out of 8 (12%) had children living at home, and most of them were female couples (80%)

For additional statistics about same-sex couples in Canada, go to:

Family life – Becoming parents

The desire to have children in one’s life is a personal choice. LGBTQ2+ people who want to become parents do so for the same reasons as heterosexual people. However, what may seem natural for heterosexual couples, entails several obstacles for LGBTQ2+ people. The issues involved in that process have required, and continue to require, countless social and legal changes.

Homo-parenting and trans-parenting, what would that be?

Homoparenting designates any type of family in which at least one of the parents is lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB). Homoparental families exist in many forms: two parents, single parent, reconstituted, adoptive, foster, multiethnic, bi-racial, etc.

Any form of family in which one of the parents is trans. A trans person might become a parent before or after starting such transition. Transgender-parent families can also be seen as heteroparental or homoparental. (French only) 

Not all homoparental and transgender-parent families correspond to the father-mother-children model, and their family realities can take many forms.

  • Reconstituted families with children conceived in previous heterosexual relationships
  • Families that resorted to assisted reproduction (fertility clinic)
  • Families that resorted to home insemination (with the assistance of a friend or an acquaintance)
  • Foster families or adoption (in Canada or from abroad)
  • Surrogate motherhood
  • Multi-parenting (more than two parents share the parenting duties)

All of these types of families raise several legal questions related to family structure and filiation establishing the bond between a child and its parents and forming the basis of parental authority. The obstacles to adoption and assisted conception are gradually diminishing in specific situations, but others are still being debated.

In 2013, British Columbia recognized the right for a child to have up to four legal parents. In 2016, Ontario adopted Bill 28, All Families are Equal Act (Parentage and Related Registrations Statute Law Amendment), giving all parents the same legal rights, regardless of their sexual orientation or the means of conception. It also allows up to four legal parents.

Adoption-A few definitions

Homoparental adoption – Adoption in which the adopter is a homosexual person or couple.

Coparental adoption – Adoption in which a person adopts his or her spouse’s child.

Join adoption – Adoption in which both partners acquire equal parenting rights.
Prior to 1996, a homosexual person could adopt a child as a single parent. Joint adoption of children by a same-sex couple was legalized before the legalization of civil marriages by several provincial jurisdictions.

1995 in Ontario
1996 in British Columbia
2001 in Saskatchewan and in Nova Scotia
2002 in Newfoundland and Labrador, in Quebec, in Manitoba and in the Northwest Territories
2003 in the Yukon

In Alberta, adoption of a child by a parent’s partner was legalized in 1999, and joint adoption in 2007.
New Brunswick legalized joint adoption in 2008, Prince Edward Island did it in 2009, and Nunavut in 2011.

Explaining sexual and family diversity to children and teens

Certain books address sexual and gender diversity, as well as family diversity. Those works help demystify prejudices and can help young people to better understand the different realities.

English references

French references