Coming Out in Canada: The Immigration of Same-Sex Couples Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

McGill Law Journal/Revue de droit de McGill, Vol. 49, No. 4, pp. 969-1003, 2004

35 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2011 Last revised: 20 Jul 2013

See all articles by Nicole LaViolette

Nicole LaViolette

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2004

Abstract

While Canadian immigration policy has long favoured family reunification, until recently, Canadian immigration laws allowed only married heterosexual Canadians to sponsor their spouses as family class immigrants. The recently enacted Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and the accompanying Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, have expanded the family class to allow gay men and lesbians to formally sponsor their partners. In this article, the author argues that despite the important progress made in recognizing gay and lesbian conjugal relationships under the new legislation, the issue of same-sex immigration remains problematic. The author examines the legislative scheme to reveal that the new family class categories still contain policy and drafting weaknesses that could hinder same-sex immigration. In addition, while the new legislation offers a better regime than existed previously, gay men and lesbians remain vulnerable to discriminatory applications of the law if visa officers, members of the Immigration Division, and Federal Court judges do not recognize the political, social, and cultural specificity of gay and lesbian couples who apply for permanent residency in Canada.

Alors que la politique canadienne sur l'immigration a longtemps favorise la reunification familiale, jusqu'a tout recemment, Le droit de l'immigration permettait exclusivement aux repondants heterosexuels de parrainer la demande d'immigration de leur conjoint en vertu de la categorie regroupement familial. Nouvellement edictee, la Loi sur l'immigration et la protection des refugies et le Reglement sur l'immigration et la protection des refugies a finalement elargi la categorie de la famille pour y inclure les couples gais et lesbien, heur permettant ainsi de parrainer officiellement leur conjoint. L'auteure de cet article constate qu'en depit du progres important qu'entraine la nouvelle loi vis-a-vis la reconnaissance des relations conjugales homosexuelles, la question de l'immigration des couples de meme sexe demeure problematique. Dans son examen du nouveau regime legislatif, l'auteure demontre que la categorie regroupement familial preserve certaines faiblesses tant au niveau de la politique que de la redaction, qui risquent forcement d'entraver l'immigration des couples de meme sexe. Entre autre, la vulnerabilite des gals et les lesbiennes face a l'application discriminatoire de la loi persistera si les agents de visa, commissaires de la Section d'immigration et juges de la Cour federale ne reconnaissent pas la particularite politique, sociale et culturelle des couples homosexuels qui font demande pour L'obtention du statut de resident permanent au Canada.

Suggested Citation

LaViolette, Nicole, Coming Out in Canada: The Immigration of Same-Sex Couples Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (2004). McGill Law Journal/Revue de droit de McGill, Vol. 49, No. 4, pp. 969-1003, 2004, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1803800

Nicole LaViolette (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Canada

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