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Encyclopedia > Egan v. Canada

Egan v. Canada [1995] 2 S.C.R. 513, 1995 SCC 49 was a case argued before the Supreme Court of Canada regarding gay rights. The Supreme Court Building in Ottawa The Supreme Court of Canada is Canadas highest court and is located in the capital city of Ottawa. ... The gay rights movement is a collection of loosely aligned civil rights groups, human rights groups, support groups and political activists seeking acceptance, tolerance and equality for non-heterosexual, (homosexual, bisexual), and transgender people - despite the fact that it is typically referred to as the gay rights movement, members also...

Contents


Background

Plantiff James Egan and John Norris Nesbit were a gay couple who had been in a conjugal relationship since 1948. Upon reaching age 65 in 1986, Egan began to receive old age security from the government under the Old Age Security Act. When Nesbit reached 60, he applied for a spousal allowance, and was turned down on the basis that he and Egan were not spouses for the purpose of the Act. Egan brought suit. After losing their case in the Trial Division and the Federal Court of Appeal, Egan and Nesbit brought an appeal to the Supreme Court. 1948 is a leap year starting on Thursday (link will take you to calendar). ... 1986 is a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Old Age Security (OAS) pension is a taxable monthly payment available to most Canadians 65 years of age or older. ...


Ruling

On May 25, 1995, the court dismissed the appeal, ruling that the definition of "spouse" in the Old Age Security Act was constitutional, on the basis of Section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which provides for "such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society" (Lamer C.J. and La Forest, Sopinka, Gonthier, and Major JJ. in favour; L'Heureux-DubĂ©, Cory, McLachlin, and Iacobucci JJ. dissenting). May 25 is the 145th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (146th in leap years). ... 1995 was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Section One of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the section of the Charter that confirms that the rights listed in the document are guaranteed. ... The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a constitutionally entrenched bill of rights which forms part of the Constitution of Canada adopted in 1982. ... The Right Honourable Antonio Lamer, PC , CC , CD (born July 8, 1933 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada) was appointed Chief Justice of Canada on July 1, 1990. ... The Honourable Gérard Vincent La Forest (born April 1, 1926) was a Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada from January 16, 1985 to September 30, 1997. ... John Sopinka (March 19, 1933 - November 24, 1997) was a Canadian lawyer and puisne justice on the Supreme Court of Canada, the first Ukrainian-Canadian appointed to the high court. ... The Honourable Mr. ... The Honourable John Major, B.Comm. ... Claire LHeureux-Dubé (born September 7, 1927) served as a justice on the Supreme Court of Canada from 1987 to 2002. ... The Honourable Peter deCarteret Cory, B.A., LL.B., LL.D. (born October 25, 1925) was a puisne judge of the Supreme Court of Canada from 1989 to 1999. ... The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C., B.A., M.A., LL.B., LL.D., Chief Justice of Canada. ... Frank Iacobucci (born January 29, 1937) was an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of Canada from 1991 to 2004 when he retired from the bench. ...


Nevertheless, the case set a critical precedent in favour of gay rights. The justices ruled unanimously that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was prohibited by Section 15 of the Charter, which provides that: Sexual orientation refers to the sex or gender of people who are the focus of a persons amorous or erotic desires, fantasies, and spontaneous feelings, the gender(s) one is primarily oriented towards. ... Section Fifteen of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms consist of the equality rights guarantee of the Charter against all forms of discrimination perpetrated by the government with the exception of ameliorative programs (affirmative action). ...

Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

The ruling stated:

Sexual orientation is a deeply personal characteristic that is either unchangeable or changeable only at unacceptable personal costs, and so falls within the ambit of s. 15 protection as being analogous to the enumerated grounds.'

As it provided the precedent that S. 15 forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, Egan is often summarized by saying that sexual orientation was "read into" the Charter.


See also

See also: 1994 in gay rights, other events of 1995, 1996 in gay rights and the list of years in gay rights Events May May 25 - Egan v. ...

External link

  • Text of Egan v. Canada ruling (University of Montreal)

  Results from FactBites:
 
Nelson - Political Science-Canadian Politics on the Web/Civil Rights in Canada (1079 words)
In Canada the definition and protection of civil rights began with ordinary statutes that set out a limited range of rights to which citizens were entitled.
The full text of all Supreme Court of Canada decisions relating to the Charter of Rights, from 1983 to present, is now available on-line thanks to the Centre de recherche en droit public at the Universite de Montreal.
Canada [1995] decided that the Old Age Security Act is not unconstitutional by not including same-sex unions in its definition of spouses.
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