LGBTQ2+ History in Canada

1965

RCMP question Everett Klippert in connection with an arson investigation in NWT. Although Klippert had nothing to do with any fires, he did admit under coercive questioning to regular sex with other men and is unlikely to change. He effectively becomes Canada's first publicly "OUTED" citizen.


1967

Everett Klippert was sent to jail on four counts of gross indecency and is convicted on the sole basis of his own admission of having sex with men. This sparked amendments to the Canadian Criminal Code by Pierre Trudeau, who famously declared: "there is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation."


1969

Pierre Trudeau's proposed amendments to the Criminal Code take effect, decriminalizing homosexuality in Canada. After much legal wrangling all the way to the Supreme Court, Everett Klippert is eventually released from prison two years later.


1971

In November the first edition of The Body Politic hits the streets. It included a re-print of the Toronto Gay Action Network manifesto "We Demand," which had been presented to the Federal government at a rally on Parliament Hill in August of that year. This historical document becomes the rally cry for for many protest that follow and the cornerstone which frames LGBTQ human rights in Canada


1977

Quebec was the first province in Canada to pass a gay civil rights law by including sexual orientation in its Human Rights Code. The law prohibited discrimination against gay men and lesbians in housing, public accommodation and employment. By 2001, all provinces and territories, except Alberta, Prince Edward Island, and the Northwest Territories, took similar steps.


1977

'Homosexuals' removed from the list of inadmissible classes in Canada's new Immigration Act.


1980

MP Pat Carney introduced an act to the House of Commons, Bill C-242, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. The bill, which did not pass, would have inserted "sexual orientation" into the Canadian Human Rights Act. MP Svend Robinson introduced similar bills throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, all of which were defeated.


1981

More than 300 men were arrested in police raids at four gay bath houses in Toronto, sparking a protest of approximately 3,000 people the next day. The protest is considered to be Canada's 'Stonewall.'


1986

Following a report from a Parliamentary Committee of Equality Rights, the Canadian Government promised to "take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that sexual orientation is a prohibited ground of discrimination in relation to all areas of federal jurisdiction."


1988

MP Svend Robinson of the NDP announced publically that he is gay, becoming the first gay Member of Parliament in Canada.


1991

Delwin Vriend, an instructor at King's University College in Edmonton, was fired in 1991 for being gay. The Alberta Human Rights Commission refused to investigate the case at first since the Alberta Individual Rights Protection Act did not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation. After a long battle in the courts, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously in 1998 that the exclusion of sexual orientation from Alberta's Individual Rights Protection Act was in violation to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, leading to the precedent of sexual orientation being read into Alberta's Individual Rights Protection Act.


1992

After the Ontario Court of Appeals ruled that the failure to include sexual orientation into the Canadian Human Rights Act is discriminatory, Federal Justice Minister Kim Campbell introduced an act, which is later defeated, that would include "sexual orientation" in the Canadian Human Rights Act.


1992

Gays and lesbians allowed to enter the Canadian armed forces after a Federal Court lifts the ban on homosexuals in the military.


1995

Ontario became the first province to legalize same-sex adoption when an Ontario Court Judge ruled that the Ontario Child and Family Services Act infringed Section 15 of the Charter by prohibiting applications for same-sex adoptions. British Columbia, Alberta, and Nova Scotia follow suit in the following years.


1996

Bill C-33 was passed adding "Sexual Orientation" to the Canadian Human Rights Act.


1999

In the case of "M v. H," the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that, in accordance to the Canadian Charter, the word "spouse" should be defined as "two persons" rather than "a man or a woman." Ontario was given 6 months to amend its Family Law Act. In Bill 5, introduced by Attorney General Jim Flaherty, a new same-sex category was created in the Ontario Family Law Act rather than changing the definition of "spouse." The Act was now to read "spouse or same-sex partner" rather than only "spouse." The Bill further amended over 60 other provincial laws, making the rights and responsibilities of same-sex couples the same as opposite-sex common-law couples.


1999

Despite the Supreme Court's rulings in the case of "M v. H," the federal government ruled in a vote of 216 to 55 to preserve the definition of "marriage" as a union between a man and a woman.


2000

The federal government passed Bill C-23 with a vote of 174 to 72 to extend the definition of "common-law relationships" to same-sex couples, giving same-sex couples the same social and tax benefits as opposite-sex couples in common-law relationships. The Bill affected 68 federal statutes including pension benefits, income tax deductions, bankruptcy, old age security and the Canadian Criminal Code.


2000

The Alberta government passed Bill 202 to declare that it would use the Notwithstanding Clause in the event of a court redefining marriage to include same-sex couples.


2000

Following Toronto's lead, British Columbia was the first province to ask the courts for guidance on the constitutionality of Canada's ban on same-sex marriage.


2002

The Durham Catholic District School Board in Ontario banned Marc Hall, a student at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic High School, from bringing his boyfriend to the school prom. Ontario Superior Court Judge Robert McKinnon ruled that a gay student has the right to bring a date of their choice to the school prom.


2002

An Ontario Superior Court ruled that prohibiting gay couples from marriage violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is thus unconstitutional. The Court gave the Ontario government 2 years to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. The Ontario government passed the decision onto the federal government.


2002

In response to the ruling in Ontario, the Alberta government passed a bill to define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman, and reiterated that it would use the Notwithstanding Clause to avoid recognizing same-sex marriage.


2003

The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in June that, "the existing common law definition of marriage violates the couple's equality rights on the basis of sexual orientation." Hours later, Michael Leshner and Michael Stark were married in Toronto. Ontario Attorney General Norm Sterling later announced that the province would follow the law and officially register same-sex marriages.


2003

Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced legislation to legalize same-sex marriages across Canada, while permitting religious organizations the right to "sanctify marriage as they see it." The legislation is sent to the Supreme Court of Canada for review.


2003

A month after the ruling in Ontario, British Columbia became the second province to legalize same-sex marriage, giving same-sex couples the right to marry immediately. The British Columbia Court of Appeal agreed earlier that the definition of marriage should be changed to a union of "two persons," which would have come into effect a year later.


2003

The United Church of Canada endorsed same-sex marriage.


2003

An Ontario court ruled that survivor benefits should be extended retroactively to same-sex couples.


2004

The Quebec Court of Appeals ruled in favour of same-sex marriage, declaring that the 'traditional' definition of marriage is discriminatory and unjustified. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, followed suit, and marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples. New Brunswick extended its definition of marriage to same-sex couples in 2005, making the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Alberta and PEI the only provinces not to accept same-sex marriage.


2004

The first same-sex divorce occurred in Ontario.


2004

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the federal government can change the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, but did not answer whether the Charter required this change.


2005

Two men were married in the chapel at Nova Scotia's Greenwood airbase in May. The low-key ceremony was the Canadian military's first gay wedding.


2005

Bill C-38, the Civil Marriage Act, passed the House of Commons in June with a vote of 158-133. The Bill formally legalized same-sex marriage throughout Canada, making Canada the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage after the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. Bill C-38 became law on July 20, 2005. Opposition Leader Stephen Harper declared that he would revisit the law if his party should form the next government.


2006

A motion to reopen the same-sex marriage debate tabled by the Conservative government was defeated in the House of Commons with a vote of 175-123. Prime Minister Stephen Harper afterwards told reporters, "I don't see reopening this question in the future"


2016

The federal government says it plans to review cases where gay men were convicted of charges of "gross indecency" and "buggery" during the late 1960s before Canada decriminalized homosexual acts between consenting adults. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau intends to recommend a pardon be granted posthumously to Everett Klippert under the "royal prerogative of mercy"