2 min

On the agenda

• Supreme Court Reference: The Liberal government intends to introduce legislation to permit same-sex couples to marry and has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to confirm the decision of Courts of Appeal in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec. The high court is scheduled to deal with the reference Oct 6–8. A decision will follow many months later. Egale is an intervenor in the reference and was a party in BC, an intervenor in Ontario and part of a coalition that intervened in Quebec.

• Kimberley Nixon: Transsexual Kimberley Nixon was denied the right to volunteer at Vancouver Rape Relief because she was born a man. Nixon challenged the refusal, winning at the BC Human Rights Tribunal but losing at the BC Supreme Court. She is now appealing to the BC Court of Appeal. Egale is seeking to intervene in her case.

• Terry Haldane: Terry Haldane plans a constitutional challenge to his being charged as a “found-in” at the Goliath bathhouse in Calgary. Egale coordinated a legal discussion that led to Joe Avery agreeing to represent Haldane. The hearing is expected in 2005. Haldane’s case is separate from the hearing for those charged as “keepers” currently underway.

• Age of Consent for Anal Sex: The age of consent for anal sex is higher than for other practices. According to the Canadian Criminal Code, unmarried persons under 18 years of age cannot consent to anal sex. Youths age 14 and older, however, can consent to other sexual activities, so long as there is no relationship with the partner based on trust or authority. Consensual activity is also open to 12 to 14 year olds so long as their partner is less than two years older. Egale has asked the current Justice Minister to repeal the anal intercourse law. His response was that he supports this but fears it could trigger calls to raise the age of consent. The Justice Department’s response to earlier calls to raise the age of consent was the contentious Bill C-12 (formerly C-20), which seeks to tighten laws on child pornography, but which has been accused of artistic censorship.

• Human Rights Act Review: Egale intends to work with a supportive MP to introduce a private member’s bill to add gender identity to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Egale’s work in 2003 included:

• Canadians for Equal Marriage: Egale coordinated the founding of the group Canadians for Equal Marriage (CEM), which began operating in September 2003. The group was formed in response to organized opposition to the Ontario decision in June 2003. Although the organization is entirely independent, Egale’s work on this issue takes place through CEM.

• Nunavut: Egale submitted a brief to the Nunavut legislature’s Standing Committee supporting inclusion of sexual orientation in the territory’s draft Human Rights Act and asked that gender identity also be included. Despite opposition, the Act passed Nov 4, 2003 – however, gender identity was not included.