Canada has distinguished itself from most other nations by affording same-sex and opposite-sex couples equal treatment for immigration purposes.Both marriage and common-law partnerships (opposite-sex and same-sex) are legally recognized in Canada for purposes of federal benefits and obligations (Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act, June 2000). Canadian Immigration legislation conforms to this law.
Same-sex couples, residing abroad in a common-law or marriage relationship, can apply for Permanent Residence Status in Canada as a couple, subject to meeting eligibility criteria. Likewise, Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents can sponsor their same-sex partners.
In July 2003, a Draft Bill changing the definition of marriage in Canada to include same-sex marriages was referred to The Supreme Court of Canada. The Court is expected to decide its constitutionality very soon. The Bill is designed to provide equality for all Canadians by recognizing the unions of same-sex couples and at the same time protect freedom of religion by allowing officials of religious groups to refuse to conduct marriage ceremonies that don't fit their religious beliefs. The Draft Bill defines "Marriage, for civil purposes" as "the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of others".
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