Legal News - Canada now open to foreign gay marriages
January 31, 2007
Canada now open to foreign gay marriages
By Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell
Gay and lesbian Canadians can now marry their same-sex partners abroad and then sponsor their spouse for immigration to Canada. The update to Canadian immigration rules was quietly introduced by the Conservative government on January 24th and was announced by NDP MP Bill Siksay yesterday.
Siksay, a member of Parliament's Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration, raised the issue last month in a motion, vowing to use his influence on the committee to force the government to end this discrimination against same-sex couples.
In June 2004, one year after same-sex marriage was legalized by the Ontario Court of Appeal, the then-Liberal government of Canada introduced a policy for same-sex couples that differed from treatment of opposite-sex couples, fearing that same-sex marriages performed abroad could be more open to fraudulent immigration applications.
The policy recognized same-sex marriages for immigration purposes, only if the marriage was performed in Canada, and of course only if one of the spouses was Canadian. Opposite-sex marriages did not face the same restriction.
At this time, the Citizenship and Immigration web site has not been updated, and the old restrictions are still posted. However, the Minister in charge has assured the Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration that the policy has changed, and updates should appear soon.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Diane Finley responded to the committee's motion in a letter on January 24, saying the her department "has moved to annul the interim policy on same-sex marriage. As a result, same-sex marriages legally performed in Canada and in foreign jurisdictions are now recognized for all immigration purposes."
"This is another important victory towards full equality of gay and lesbian Canadians”, noted Siksay in a press release yesterday. “The failure of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to treat legal gay and lesbian marriages performed in jurisdictions outside Canada was clearly discriminatory. Gay and lesbian couples legally married outside Canada will now be recognized as part of spousal, family class immigration sponsorship applications. This is good news for many gay and lesbian couples in Canada and for those who support the full equality of gay and lesbian Canadians.”
Canada has emerged as a leader in the worldwide movement for equal marriage, with thousands of foreigners coming to Canada to marry.