The Practices of Lesbian Mothers and Quebec’s Reforms

Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, Vol. 23, pp. 579-599, 2011

21 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2010 Last revised: 24 Nov 2011

See all articles by Robert Leckey

Robert Leckey

McGill University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 23, 2011


Since 2002, Quebec has provided a means for a child to acquire two parents of the same sex via the original act of birth. This paper presents Quebec’s 2002 reforms relating to filiation to an English-language Canadian readership. It also aims to enlarge the doctrinal discourse in that province, where a positivist approach still prevails. It adopts an affirmatively antihomophobic and feminist approach and draws on feminist methodological concerns with the experience of women’s lives. The paper takes three elements of Quebec’s regime and holds them against accounts of the parenting practices of lesbian couples drawn from the social sciences literature. The elements are the lack of formality for the exchange of consent that creates a parental project, the recognition of two women as legal "mothers," and the restriction to a pair of parents at most. The argument is that the lack of formality finds little support in the practices of lesbian parents, while recognizing two "mothers" and restricting parents to two rests on substantial - but not uncontradicted - evidence. Indeed, the complexity of the social science accounts hints at the difficulties of straightforward assumptions that family law can ever "reflect" or "fit" social practices.

Keywords: lesbian mother, social science research, Quebec, feminist methodology

JEL Classification: K10, K19

Suggested Citation

Leckey, Robert, The Practices of Lesbian Mothers and Quebec’s Reforms (November 23, 2011). Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, Vol. 23, pp. 579-599, 2011. Available at SSRN:

Robert Leckey (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec
514-398-4148 (Phone)
514-398-4659 (Fax)

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