Canada to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages Performed Abroad for Immigration Purposes
Canada was among of the first countries in the world to allow same-sex marriage. However in June 2004, during the first steps towards legalization, the Canadian government introduced a policy to treat same-sex marriages performed abroad differently, fearing them to be more open to fraud. Canadians who had same-sex marriages performed outside the country could still sponsor their spouse, but had to follow the rules for common-law unions. Same-sex marriages performed in Canada were recognized equally with traditional marriages.
The issue was raised in a motion last month by New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Bill Siksay, who is a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, agreed to review the policy, leading to the decision announced this week. "CIC has moved to annul the interim policy on same-sex marriage," wrote Ms. Finley in a letter to the immigration committee. "As a result, same-sex marriages legally performed in Canada and in foreign jurisdictions are now recognized for all immigration purposes.”
Canada passed legislation to allow same-sex marriages in June 2005, after a process set in motion by a ruling of the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2003. The other countries that recognize same-sex marriage—the sources of the foreign unions in question− include the Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Spain and the U.S. state of Massachusetts. Many other countries recognise forms of same-sex unions of varying degrees of equivalence to traditional marriage.
In an announcement earlier this week, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has stated that Canada will now recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad for all immigration purposes. While Same-sex marriage is legal in Canada, until now the Canadian government had only recognized those unions performed in Canada.