Advocacy News - Appeal from Quebec: Stand up for equality
March 30, 2006
Appeal from Quebec: Stand up for equality
Familles d'aujourd'hui is profoundly concerned that, for the first time since the adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the federal government intends to withdraw rights from certain citizens. For all Canadian citizens, particularly members of minority groups and women, this will be a dangerous precedent. For us, it is a disaster.
During the next session of Parliament, the [Stephen] Harper government will propose a vote to end our hard-won civil equality. They intend to abolish the Act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes, the law that changed the conditions for civil marriage so that it now unites "two persons" rather than the traditional "a man and a woman". If this proposal passes the House, it will be the end of our legal equality.
Because of our civil marriages, our status has changed from individuals who live together to family which allows us to protect our spouses and children through family law and to finally be recognized as a "social unit", equal to others in Canadian society. If the Conservative government withdraws our equality, making us second-class citizens once again, how can the battle against homophobia be won? Familles d'aujourd'hui, representing same-sex couples from Quebec who have married since April 1, 2004, refuses to go back to the past.
Three classes of citizens
While the Harper government claims to have no intention of altering the rights of same-sex couples who, like us, are already married, they will actually be creating three classes of citizens:
To be very clear, our Prime Minister is proposing a two-tier human rights system for Canada.
When we speak of civil marriage, we are talking about a civil status that is accessible to all citizens. The Marriage Law specifies that the nondiscriminatory conditions for marriage do not apply to religious ceremonies except if a religious community wishes them to apply. Religious groups have the right to discriminate within their own institutions but not outside them. These communities already have all the required protections in the Charter and in the present law on civil marriage. In a free, secular and democratic society, one group's religion, ideology or prejudice cannot become the law for others.
From our perspective, the arguments in favor of denying us the right to civil marriage arise from heterosexism and homophobia. Refusing to accept our humanity, these arguments encourage hatred, discrimination and violence towards us.
Here we stand
The members of Familles d'aujourd'hui do not want the "privileges" that Mr. Harper intends to legislate for us. We want the same rights as all Canadians, not "separate but equal" rights. If ever the government tables their project, we will be ready.
We have no intention of going back into the closet or of losing our most fundamental rights. Nor do we desire to become the dodo birds of Canadian human rights history. We intend to fight for our rights, our full citizenship: Canada's gay and lesbian youth of the future should not have to live with the discrimination, marginality, violence and hatred we have known.