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LGBTQ+ Studies Research Guide

LGBTQ+ Studies

Welcome to the the Library's Research Guide for LGBTQ+ Studies. 



Milestones in the evolution of gay rights

  • In 1892, Canada enacted gross indecency laws that made any acts of attraction between men, including kissing and touching, a criminal offence. The law was extended to women in 1953. In 1988, the gross indecency offence was repealed.
  • Homosexuality was decriminalized in Canada in 1969. Before that, individuals who engaged in sexual activity with others of the same sex risked long prison sentences.
  • Homosexuality was removed from the list of psychiatric disorders in 1973 by the American Psychiatric Association, whose diagnostic manual (DSM) is used by Canadian health care professionals.
  • Rights and freedoms in the provinces: In 1977, Quebec became the first province to amend its Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. In the years that followed, all provinces and territories eventually followed suit, Alberta being the last, in 2009.
  • Rights and freedoms at the federal level: Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into force in 1985, guaranteeing equality rights and prohibiting discrimination on a number of grounds. While sexual orientation is not explicitly included as a prohibited ground of discrimination, it was recognized as such by the courts in 1995 in Egan v. Canada. In 1996 the Parliament of Canada included sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act.
  • Canadian Armed Forces: Sexual orientation was removed as a barrier to enrolment and promotion for military personnel in 1992.
  • Hate crimes: Since 1996, the Criminal Code has provided stricter penalties for crimes motivated by hate based on certain personal characteristics, including sexual orientation.
  • Spousal recognition: In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark decision in M. v. H. recognized same-sex couples as common-law partners. This was followed by provincial and federal legislation granting same-sex couples benefits and obligations similar to those that apply to other common-law couples.
  • Marriage: In 2005, Canada legalized same-sex marriage by enacting the Civil Marriage Act. This led to amendments to other statutes granting same-sex couples equal access not only to the civil effects of marriage, but also to those of divorce.

  • Blood donation: In 2013, Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec announced that gay men who had not had sex with another man for five years would be able to donate blood.

What about the letters T and Q in LGBTQ?

While they are an integral part of the LGBTQ community, transgender people may face issues and challenges quite different from those pertaining to sexual orientation. Being transgender concerns one’s gender identity – a person’s profound sense, independent of biological sex, of being male or female.

As for queer individuals, they do not necessarily feel that they belong to a particular category of “gender” or “sexual orientation.” They feel that there is a broad continuum of possible identities that could change over one’s lifetime. One of their aims is to make everyday language less restrictive and to make greater use of gender-neutral terms.

(Source: Library of Parliament)

Creative Commons License

This guide has been created by the Toronto Metropolitan University Library and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0 License unless otherwise marked.

Creative Commons Attribution License