LGBTQ Parents Issue Charter Challenge Against Ontario Government
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LGBTQ Parents Issue Charter Challenge Against Ontario Government

Cy and Ruby's Act was tabled in October 2015, but it remains stalled.

Last October, LGBTQ parents rejoiced when they learned that the battle for their parental rights to be up to par with their heterosexual cisgender counterparts was about to be fought in Queen’s Park.

Cheri DiNovo, NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park and LGBTQ Queen’s Park critic, championed these rights with the introduction of Bill 137, Cy and Ruby’s Act. The bill would eliminate the costly and time-consuming need for lesbian mothers to adopt their children at birth, and allow transgender men who give birth to identify themselves on their child’s birth certificate as a parent or father.

But months have passed, and despite all party support, the bill is stalled.

DiNovo and activists are now taking matters one step further, and have issued a Charter challenge against the Ontario government.

“Twenty-one families have decided to enter into court challenge to force the government to change the law,” says DiNovo. A Charter challenge can be issued when, as the MPP says, “the state of affairs is unconstitutional.” That is, the court can determine if a law violates the Constitution of Canada, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Bill 137 would make birth registration services more equitable and use more inclusive language to protect the rights of LGBTQ parents. In 2006, Ontario Justice Paul Rivard ruled that the Children’s Law Reform Act and the Vital Statistics Act, which govern birth registries, were “clearly outdated” when two lesbian co-mothers fought to have their names on their child’s birth certificate.

The move is not unforeseen: Lawyer Joanna Radbord, who helped DiNovo table Bill 137 and mother of Cy and Ruby of the bill’s namesake, told Torontoist the next step would be litigation if the government was not responsive.

Unless the government chooses to act in upcoming weeks, they’ll face challenges in court. According to DiNovo, this would only be “spending taxpayer dollars fighting LGBTQ communities who simply want justice and civil rights for queer families.”

Other jurisdictions in Canada, such as British Columbia, have fixed discriminatory legislation that affects the birth registration process and creates unnecessary costs and hurdles for LGBTQ parents.