Laws

Canada

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Limited information only available for these topics

Access to Children
Adoption of Children
Age of Consent
Anti-Vilification
Artifical Insemination
Assisted Reproduction
Civil Unions
  Custody of Children
Defamation, Insult
Discrimination
Estates, Wills
Fostering Children
Gender Identity
Harassment
  Hate Crimes
HIV/Aids
Homosexuality
Inheritance, Succession
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
Marriage
Parenting
  Partners
Property
Sodomy
Transgender, Transsexual
Violence
Wrongful Death

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Assisted Reproduction Technology
Artificial Insemination, In Vitro Fertilisation
Surrogacy
Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Courts & Tribunals

On 08 January 2016, Madam Justice Fitzpatrick in the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that baby E born to B.C. woman E.M. implanted with an egg from Connecticut woman M.E., the sister of D.D., that was fertilized with his partner M.L.'s sperm, were the parents of the child. The men in a marriage-like relationship since October 2000, live and will raise the child in Quebec and sought the order because there was some legal uncertainty as to their parental status in the province of Quebec [C2.4], [R2.3].

On 23 April 2012, BC Supreme Court Justice Loryl Russell found sperm straws should be considered “property”, ordering the division of remaining sperm between separated partners – seven straws to JCM and six straws to ANA [C1.2], [R1.1].

C2.4 Reasons for Judgment: D.D. and M.L. and In the Matter of the Family Law Act No. 2016 BCSC 22, 08 JAN 16
R2.3 TheProvince: British Columbia court order confirms that same-sex Quebec couple are parents of child borne by surrogate mother here 12 JAN 15
C1.2 Supreme Court: JCM v. ANA 2012 BCSA 584, 23 APR 12
R1.1 Calgary Herald: Court orders former B.C. lesbian couple to divide leftover sperm 27 APR 12
Children: Access, Custody, Visitation Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Province

In February 1998, a law giving gay and lesbian couples the same rights and obligations as heterosexuals in the areas of child support, custody and access took effect [R1.1].

Previously:

In June 1997, Attorney-General, Ujjal Dosanjh introduced legislation to recognise gay couples as legal spouses for purposes of child custody, maintenance and access [R1.2].

R1.1 Capital Q: Couples Measure Takes Effect 20 FEB 98
R1.2 Capital Q: Spousal Rights Introduced 20 JUN 97
Civil Unions, Partners: Domestic, Registered Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [ESTATES] [MARRIAGE]
1.

Province

In July 2010, the government released its White Paper on Family Relations Act Reform proposing that couples who have lived together for two years, or less time if they are raising a child together, be treated the same as married couples [R1.1].

If a same-sex couple separates after cohabiting for at least two years, they can apply for financial support in the same way as married couples [R1.2].

Since 2001, same-sex partners in a conjugal relationship for at least one year have been required to declare themselves as common-law partners on their tax return [R1.2].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

The B.C. Supreme Court will allow a $380-million class action lawsuit against the federal government by gays and lesbians for survivor benefits under the Canada Pension Plan [C2.1], [R2.1].

R1.1 The Vancouver Sun: The truth about same-sex and common-law partnerships 30 JUL 10
R1.2 Vancouver Sun: Same-sex Marriages Can End in Divorce 30 JUN 03
C2.1 Eric Brogaard and Gail Meredith -v- Attorney General of Canada
R2.1 Canadian Press: British Columbia court certifies class-action lawsuit for same-sex pension benefits 03 AUG 02
Associated Press: Suit to Recover from Pension Plan 13 MAR 02
Defamation, Insult, Libel, Slander Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [DISCRIMINATION]
1

Courts & Tribunals

On 19 June 2013, Mr Justice J S Sigurdson in the Supreme Court upheld the Human Rights Tribunal decision in Pardy v. Earle that awarded CAD $14,000 to lesbian Lorna Pardy found to have been insulted by comedian Guy Earle who directed homophobic and sexist insult to her at a Zesty Food Services restaurant in 2007 [C1.2], [R1.1].

C1.2 Supreme Court: Ismail v. British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal 2013 BCSC 1079 19 JUN 13
R1.1 PinkNews: Ruling upheld against comedian for discriminatory tirade against lesbian 21 JUN 13
Discrimination Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Province

In August 1996, the Province banned graduates of a Christian University from teaching in State run schools due to the institution's attitude to gay and lesbian sexuality [R2.1].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 05 January 2016, the Law Society of British Columbia notified it had filed an appeal of the recent decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 'TWU v. Law Society of British Columbia' ruling that Trinity Western University may now open a law school and require all students to sign a 'Community Covenant' that dictates they must abstain from engaging in same-sex relationships [R2.10].

On 10 December 2015, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that Trinity Western University may now open a law school and require all students to sign a 'Community Covenant' that dictates they must abstain from engaging in same-sex relationships [C2.9], [R2.8].

On 19 June 2013, Mr Justice J S Sigurdson in the Supreme Court upheld the Human Rights Tribunal decision in Pardy v. Earle that awarded CAD $14,000 to lesbian Lorna Pardy found to have been insulted by comedian Guy Earle who directed homophobic and sexist insult to her at a Zesty Food Services restaurant in 2007 [C2.7], [R2.6].


On 17 July 2012, Human Rights Tribunal member Enid Marion ruled that a Christian couple violated a gay couple's rights when they denied the two men accommodation at their Grand Forks bed and breakfast in 2009 [C2.5], [R2.4].


In December 2005, two lesbians in British Columbia continued to appeal a decision by the Human Rights Tribunal, seeking a finding of discrimination despite being awarded $2,000 in damages for the "humiliation" they suffered [R2.3].


In January 2003, BC Supreme Court Justice Allan Stewart quashed a BC Human Rights Tribunal ruling that North Vancouver school district had discriminated against Azmi Jubran based on his perceived sexual orientation when it failed to stop schoolmates who tormented and assaulted him [R2.2].

The homophobic taunts repeatedly hurled at the high school student can't be linked to discrimination based on sexual orientation because the victim was not homosexual, the judge ruled.


In March 2000, Walter Gray, the mayor of Kelowna, decided to eliminate all future proclamations by the city in response to a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision that deemed his elimination of the word "pride" from Gay and Lesbian Pride Day to be discriminatory [R2.1].

R1.1 Westside Observer: Christian University Graduates Banned 15 AUG 96
R2.10 LawSocietyofBritishColumbia: Law Society appeals decision in TWU v. Law Society of BC 05 JAN 15
C2.9 Reasons for Judgment: Trinity Western University v. The Law Society of British Columbia 2015 BDSC 2326 PDF 539.30kb 10 DEC 15
R2.8 VancityBuzz: British Columbia Supreme Court rules in favour of Trinity Western University's same-sex relationship policy 10 DEC 15
C2.7 Supreme Court: Ismail v. British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal 2013 BCSC 1079 19 JUN 13
R2.6 PinkNews: Ruling upheld against comedian for discriminatory tirade against lesbian 21 JUN 13
C2.5 BCHRT: Eadie and Thomas v. Riverbend Bed and Breakfast and others (No. 2) 2012 BCHRT 247 PDF 110.13kb, 17 JUL 12
R2.4 Xtra!: Christian B&B discriminated against gay couple, BC tribunal rules 18 JUL 12
R2.3 The Advocate: Lesbians Appeal Tribunal Decision 13 DEC 05
R2.2 Vancouver Sun: Homophobic Taunts Not Discrimination, Judge Rules 07 JAN 03
R2.1 National Post: Rights Tribunal Finds B.C. Mayor Discriminated Against Gays 24 MAR 00
Estates, Inheritance, Property, Succession, Wills Legislation/Cases/References
1

Province

If one partner dies without a will, the survivor is entitled to receive the same as a married spouse, which includes the first $65,000 of the value of the estate, any household furnishings, and the right to use the home for as long as they live. Residual assets are shared with any childrent [R1.1].

If one partner dies with a will but does not adequately provide for their same-sex partner, the survivor has the right to challenge the will under BC's Wills Variation Act [R1.1].


In December 2001, the gay lover of an elderly multi-millionaire lost a protracted legal battle over the department store heir's estate [R1.2].


In March 1999, Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh announced that government would move to grant same-sex couples the same rights heterosexuals have when a spouse dies [R1.3].

2

Courts & Tribunals

On 20 November 2006, in Peden v. Peden Estate [C2.5] and on 18 September 1984, in Patterson v. Lauritsen [C2.4], a parent disinherited or reduced the inheritance of a child because the parent did not approve of the child’s homosexuality. The court in each of these cases held that, in today's society, homosexuality is not a factor that would justify a judicious parent disinheriting or limiting benefits to a child [R2.3].

In August 2002, the BC Supreme Court allowed a $380-million class action lawsuit against the federal government by gays and lesbians for survivor benefits under the Canada Pension Plan [C2.2] [R2.1].

In May 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Ontario's definition of spouse referring purely to heterosexual couples as unconstitutional enabling same-sex couples access to survivor benefits [R2.1].

R1.1 Vancouver Sun: Same-sex Marriages Can End in Divorce 30 JUN 03
R1.2 National Post: Millionaire's Gay Lover Loses Fight Over Will 07 DEC 01
R1.3 Associated Press: British Columbia to Expand Rights of Homosexual Couples 29 MAR 99
C2.5 Peden v. Peden, Smith et al., 2006 BCSC 1713, 20 NOV 06
C2.4 CanLII: Patterson v. Lauritsen (1984), 58 B.C.L.R. 182, [1984] 6 W.W.R. 329 PDF 18.11kb, 19 SEP 84
R2.3 Jewish Tribune: Is disinheritence because of sexual orientation legal? 24 AUG 11
C2.2 Eric Brogaard and Gail Meredith -v- Attorney General of Canada
R2.1 Canadian Press: British Columbia court certifies class-action lawsuit for same-sex pension benefits 03 AUG 02

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Gender Identity, Intersex,
Transgender, Transexual

[?]
Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [DISCRIMINATION]
1.

Province

On 27 April 2017, British Colombia Services issued what is believed to be the world's first official document (a health card) identifying baby Searyl Atli Doty as agender, carrying the mark "U" under "Sex", meaning undetermined or unassigned. The child was born on 11 November 2016 [R1.6].

On 25 July 2016, the parliament passed Bill 27, the Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2016, that explicitly adds gender identity and expression to the list of grounds protected from discrimination under the BC Human Rights Code, which means trans people can no longer get fired or lose housing or face discrimination just for being themselves when the changes become law with royal assent by the lieutenant governor [R1.5].

On 24 November 2015, it was reported that the new regulation, Section 9.17 of the British Columbia Adult Custody Policy now reads 'Transgender inmates are placed in a correctional center according to their self-identified gender or housing preference, unless there are overriding health and/or safety concerns which cannot be resolved' whilst recognising 'that not all transgender inmates want to be housed according to their self-identified gender' [R1.4].

On 10 March 2014, Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, (Bill 17), that would, if it becomes law, allow more transgender people to have the sex changed on their birth certificates. At present only those undergoing sex reassignment surgery may change their birth certificates [L1.3], [R1.2].

On 22 September 2013, Dr Gail Knudson announced at the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health (CPATH) conference in Winnipeg that the Ministry of Health would fund penis-construction surgery for five people annually for the next five years under the province's Medical Services Plan (MSP). The procedure is already funded in Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec [R1.1].

2.

Cities & Towns

On 25 September 2013, Vancouver City Council passed a motion to amend Vancouver's building codes, to clearly include provision for gender-neutral single-stalled washrooms in public buildings, making it the first municipality in Canada to do so [R2.1].

3.

Courts & Tribunals

In December 2005, a transgender woman in Vancouver, Canada, who was expelled as a volunteer for the Vancouver Rape Relief Society lost her appeal of a decision overturning her human rights award [R3.1].

Previously:

In January 2004, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter did not discriminate against Kimberley Nixon by refusing to let her volunteer because she used to be a man [R3.2].


In April 2003, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ordered the British Columbia government to pay a transgendered man more than $125,000 (Cdn) for sex reassignment surgery on the ground that the health insurance plan discriminated against him and denied him a service customarily available to the public because of his sexuality, and was therefore a contravention of the Human Rights Code [R3.3].


In January 2002, Human Rights Commission was ordered to pay damages to a volunteer undergoing a sex change operation because it did not believe she was female enough to be a counselor at the center [R3.4].


In October 2000, the Human Rights Commission said that a person's driving record should not be used as a way to find out if they have had a sex change [R3.5].


In June 2000, the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled that existing human rights laws against sex discrimination also cover transsexuals [R3.6].


In January 1999, the Human Rights Tribunal told B. J.'s Lounge to pay Tawni Sheridan C$2,000 (HK$10,200) for refusing to let her use the women's rest room in 1995. The bar has since cancelled its policy banning transsexuals from the women's facilities [R3.7].

R1.6 GayStarNews: This baby is the first to be officially identified as agender 04 JUL 17
R1.5 DailyXtra: BC passes trans rights in one sitting 26 JUL 16
R1.4 GayStarNews: British Columbia prisons implement reforms for transgender prisoners 24 NOV 15
L1.3 Bill 17: Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, 2014
R1.2 StraightCom: British Columbia legislation would allow more transgender people to change sex on birth certificate 10 MAR 14
R1.1 Xtra!: BC funds phalloplasty for trans men 19 OCT 12
R2.1 Xtra!: Vancouver passes gender-neutral washrooms in public buildings 25 SEP 13
R3.1 The Advocate: Transgender Woman Loses Discrimination Appeal 09 DEC 05
R3.2 blaze: Rape Shelter Allowed to Reject Transsexual 23 JAN 04
R3.3 365Gay.com: British Columbia Ordered To Pay For TG Surgery 19 APR 03
R3.4 Reuters: Rape Center Ordered to Pay Damages to Transsexual 18 JAN 02
R3.5 Reuters: Canadian Drivers Get Sex-Change Privacy 31 OCT 00
R3.6 PlanetOut: BC Court Protects Trans Rights 09 JUN 00
R3.7 South China Morning Post: Transsexual Goes to Rights Panel After Going Gets Tough 15 JAN 99
Homosexuality, Sodomy Legislation/Cases/References
1

Courts & Tribunals

In May 2001, the Supreme Court said a private Christian university was within its rights to require students in its teacher-training program to refrain from homosexual activity [R1.1].

R1.1 Reuters: Canadian College Can Bar Homosexual Activity 17 MAY 01
Marriage Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Federal

See Federal - Marriage


On 28 July 2011, at Vancouver international Airport a Canadian official approached Karen-Marie and Andrina Perry, asking if they lived together and how they were related. The couple indicated they were married. The Canadian official then said the couple was required to fill out two forms and couldn't go through US customs together [R1.1].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 08 July 2003, the three-member Court of Appeal lifted the one-year delay affecting its ruling in favour of same-sex marriages in the light of the recent Ontario ruling. Accordingly, same-sex marriages are lawful in the province [C2.1], [R2.1].

In an earlier decision, the B.C. Court of Appeal amended the common law to define marriage as the union of "two persons to the exclusion of all others." The new definition was suspended until July 12, 2004 [R2.2].

To find out how to get married in British Columbia call 604-660-2937 or go to www.vs.gov.bc.ca/marriage/howto.html

Canadian law requires residency of one-year before a divorce may be obtained [R2.3].


In August 2006, a Canadian woman won a divorce after a Vancouver court conceded that her husband's affair with another man did in fact amount to adultery [R2.4].

3.

Churches

In June 2002, Southwestern B.C. Anglican church leaders in the Diocese of New Westminster, which includes 80 parishes, voted 215 to 129 in favour of blessing same-sex unions [R3.1].

That makes New Westminster the first Canadian diocese, or a geographical region under the authority of a bishop, to formally authorize such a blessing.

The blessing would not be legally binding and diocese staff have previously said it would not closely resemble a marriage ceremony, which is a sacrament reserved by the Anglican Church of Canada for heterosexual couples.

In March 2003, the chief legal officer of the BC Anglican diocese of New Westminster has called for disciplinary action to be taken against Yukon Bishop Terrence Buckle who offered his services as a "flying bishop" to eight parishes in the Diocese of New Westminster that are opposed to their bishop's endorsement of blessing same-sex unions [R3.2].

R1.1 Xtra: Canadian border guard tells lesbian couple to fill out separate forms 29 AUG 11
C2.1 Court of Appeal for British Columbia: Barbeau v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2003 BCCA 406 08 JUL 03
R2.1 Associated Press: British Columbia OKs Same-Sex Marriages 08 JUL 03
R2.2 Toronto Globe & Mail: Conservative Groups Fight Same-sex Marriages 08 JUL 03
R2.3 Canadian Press: U.S. Gays Urged to Think Twice Before Marrying Here 13 JUL 03
R2.4 The Advocate: Canadian Court Rules Same-sex Affairs Count as Adultery 31 AUG 06
R3.1 Canadian Press: British Columbia Anglican Diocese Approves Precedent-making Same-sex Blessing 15 JUN 02
R3.2 Canadian Press: BC Anglican Diocese Says Yukon Bishop Should be Disciplined 27 MAR 03
Parenting: Adoption, Fostering Legislation/Cases/References
1.

Province

From 04 November 1996, gay and lesbian couples in British Columbia gained the same adoption rights as heterosexuals when amendments to the Adoption Act passed the provincial parliament in 1995 but were not proclaimed until 18 April 1996 [R1.1].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

On 08 January 2016, Madam Justice Fitzpatrick in the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that baby E born to B.C. woman E.M. implanted with an egg from Connecticut woman M.E., the sister of D.D., that was fertilized with his partner M.L.'s sperm, were the parents of the child. The men in a marriage-like relationship since October 2000, live and will raise the child in Quebec and sought the order because there was some legal uncertainty as to their parental status in the province of Quebec [C2.4], [R2.3].

In December 2002, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a British Columbia school board was wrong to have banned three books about same-sex parents [R2.2].


In August 2001, a BC human rights tribunal ruled that both members of same-sex couples were legally entitled to register as parents on a child's birth certificate [R2.1].

R1.1 barbara j findlay: Right to Adopt in Canada JUL 96
Adelaide Gay Times: BC Gays Win Adoption Rights 24 MAY 96
C2.4 Reasons for Judgment: D.D. and M.L. and In the Matter of the Family Law Act No. 2016 BCSC 22, 08 JAN 16
R2.3 TheProvince: British Columbia court order confirms that same-sex Quebec couple are parents of child borne by surrogate mother here 12 JAN 15
R2.2 365Gay.com: Court Overturns Ban on Gay Books 20 DEC 02
R2.1 Vancouver Sun: Same-sex Couples Win Parental Rights 29 AUG 01
Violence: Bullying, Domestic Violence, Harassment, Vilification Legislation/Cases/References
See also: [DISCRIMINATION]
1.

Province

On 08 September 2016, provincial education minister Mike Bernier announced that every school district in British Columbia must add explicit protections for LGBT students to their anti-bullying policies by the end of 2016 [R1.1].

2.

Courts & Tribunals

In June 2009, BC Supreme Court Justice Doug Halfyard ordered payment of $15,000 to a gay couple following two years of homophobic abuse by neighbours who behaved in "malicious and intolerable" ways [R2.1].

R1.1 DailyXtra: British Columbia finally passes province-wide LGBT school policy 08 SEP 16
R2.1 PinkNews.co.uk: Gay couple win $15,000 compensation from bullying neighbours 19 JUN 09

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