Gay and Lesbian Immigration to Canada: Minister Kenny Accepts Responsibility for Same Sex Omission in Canadian Citizenship Guide

Gay and Lesbian Immigration to Canada: Information on Canada’s gay rights removed from immigration guide

This week, the Canadian Press obtained internal government documents that showed praise for the country’s acceptance of gay and lesbian Canadians had been recommended for removal from a study guide released in November 2009 for Canadian citizenship applicants

The documents apparently show that Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney ordered the removal of key sections of the guide that mentioned the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1969 as well as the legalization of same-sex marriage across the entire country in 2005. Information about residential schools was also removed from the booklets

In an August 2009 memo to Kenney from deputy minister Neil Yeates, Yeates allegedly recommended reinserting the information and highlighting equality rights of all Canadians no matter what their sexual orientation.

When the study guide was released, the information was left out. When questioned about the noticeably absent information on Canada’s same-sex equality history, Kenney said, “I can tell you that if you were to read the old book, you wouldn’t even know there were gay and lesbian Canadians.

The Canadian Press also brought up the Minister’s history of opposing same-sex marriage, mentioning to journalists that before the 2005 Civil Marriage Act was debated in Parliament that gays should have every right to be married, but not to people of the same gender.

On Wednesday, Kenney reiterated that he did no such thing when asked why he had censored the study guide. A spokesperson for Kenney also alluded to the fact that someone else may have made the suggestion because Kenney’s signature did not appear anywhere on the recommendation.

Later on Thursday evening, Kenney assumed full responsibility for the incident, but would not say whether it was him or someone in his office who removed the references to gay Canadians.

Meanwhile, Canada is at the forefront of recognition of equality for same sex couples in all of North America. Nationwide, same-sex marriage is legal and widely recognized, as is same-sex divorce. Most provinces allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt, and sexual orientation is legally considered right up there with gender and race with regards to discrimination. Gay and lesbian couples also have the same benefits as heterosexual couples with regards to benefits, taxes and immigration.

Testing on the contents of the study guide is set to commence on March 15th.

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Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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