Vancouver-born Randy, 50, and Edmonton-born David, 49, both agree that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the core reason why Canada’s gay and lesbian population enjoys equality legislation.
That’s basically where everything happens. Our judicial systems measure everything against our Bill of Rights, said Randy. We refer to these court cases as Charter Challenges. The Courts would agree with the challenge, prompting the Government to pass a bill and bring the legislation in line with the Charter.
The current Charter replaced a previous Bill of Rights in 1982, and forms the first part of the Constitution Act. The Charter guarantees certain political and civil rights and as a constitutional document offers the courts a great deal of power to pass judgement when laws are in violation.
Section 15 deals with equality rights: 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…
Same-sex marriage was legalised in nine provinces through individual court challenges before the Federal Government amended the Civil Marriage Act in 2005. Ontario was the first province, in June 2003, when the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed that current Canadian law on marriage violated the Charter’s equality provisions.
David believes that in general society was in support of the legislation. Canadians can be relentless on equality issues. We are proud of multiculturalism and are a very secular society. Religion doesn’t play a strong role, he said.
The boundaries between gay and straight have been slowly eroding in Canada.
Twenty years ago Vancouver had a better gay scene. Young people don’t go to gay bars now because they don’t have to. Society no longer discriminates so gay people can socialise in the general culture. There are many discussions as to what’s going to happen to the gay culture, said Randy.
The gay culture has been based around activism. It’s done, so what do we do now? Rights can go in two directions, so possibly if the trend in Canada is not part of a global movement then it’s possible the whole thing could stall and reverse.
In July 2007 the Quebec gay rights group, Coalition Gaie et Lesbienne du Quebec, was granted consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, allowing the group to advise UN delegates on gay issues.
The Coalition’s executive director, Yvan Lapointe said, We haven’t finished fighting just because there is same-sex marriage in Canada. Immigrants from countries where homosexuality is shunned or punishable by death must be educated.
Let international countries view Canada as a test case and they will see that the opposition evaporated and that traditional culture hasn’t fallen apart, Randy said.
David, who’s worked in IT in Sydney for the past four years, and Randy, a clinical psychologist who’s visited Australia five times, are both married under Canadian law.
It’s not going to be that long for Australia. In 1999 our parliament passed a law reaffirming marriage between man and woman. Six years later we have federal same-sex marriage, said Randy.