Ontario Government to Table LGBTQ Parental Rights Legislation
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Ontario Government to Table LGBTQ Parental Rights Legislation

Wynne's Liberals will introduce a new bill more than seven months after an NDP private members' bill to do the same thing.

Parents at the Queen's Park flag raising gathered to address LGBTQ parental rights.

Parents at the Queen’s Park flag raising gathered to address LGBTQ parental rights.

Ontario’s LGBTQ parents, who have been fighting for equal legal rights to their heterosexual counterparts since last October, gathered at Queen’s Park today to rally for their cause. Premier Kathleen Wynne has finally stepped up to support them just in time for Pride Month—but they’re remaining cautiously optimistic.

On May 31, Wynne announced she would commit to working with LGBTQ parents and lawyers to table a new bill that will offer lesbian mothers equal legal recognition over their children, and transgender parents the right to be listed as under the gendered title they prefer. Changing the legislation would save LGBTQ families the legal heartache, time, and money it takes them just to have the same rights as straight parents while saving Ontario taxpayer dollars currently being used to keep drawing out the already lengthy process.

Wynne says lawyers are working to table the bill by the fall. The Liberals are aiming to have the legislation instated by the end of the year.

The announcement comes nearly two months after parents issued a charter challenge against the Ontario government to address the issue.

In October 2015, Parkdale-High Park MPP Cheri DiNovo tabled Bill 137, Cy and Ruby’s Act, a private members’ bill that would alter legislation to better recognize LGBTQ parentage. Despite receiving support from all parties, the bill remained stalled at Queen’s Park, sparking the charter challenge.

While LGBTQ parents are grateful that the issue is being addressed, many are questioning why Cy and Ruby’s Act was delayed in the first place, and what the new legislation means for the ongoing charter challenge.

“There is no need to wait. LGBTQ parents have waited long enough. There are babies being born without parental recognition,” DiNovo said in a statement. “The government could still pass my bill before Pride.”

Jennifer Mathers McHenry, whose children are the namesake of Cy and Ruby’s Act, says that though she is happy that the legislation now has a specific timeline, she’s not completely sold on Wynne’s plan.

“It remains to be seen what the Liberal government wants to do that isn’t accomplished by Cy and Ruby’s Law,” she says “It remains to be seen why they haven’t yet settled the litigation that’s ongoing from a variety of families in a variety of compositions.”

The Ontario government has been scrambling for years to force their legislation to catch up with Canada’s historic first-ever (and widely publicized) Pride Month. It has been 16 years since LGBTQ couples could be legally recognized as “spouses” and the Ontario courts have told the government that its parentage legislation has been outdated for a decade.

Wynne’s new legislation could be tabled as soon as September.