Same-sex marriage in Quebec has been legal since March 19, 2004 in accordance with a ruling from the Quebec Court of Appeal that the heterosexual definition of marriage violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Quebec became the third Canadian province after Ontario and British Columbia and the fifth jurisdiction in the world to open marriage to same-sex couples.

Court ruling

On March 19, 2004, the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled similarly to the Ontario and British Columbia courts, upholding Hendricks and Leboeuf v. Quebec and ordering that it take effect immediately.[1] The couple who brought the suit, Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf, immediately sought a marriage licence; the usual 20-day waiting period was waived, and they were wed on April 1 at the Palais de justice in Montreal. The couple had brought suit against Quebec in November 2001, alleging that its refusal to perform and recognise same-sex marriage violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charte canadienne des droits et libertés).[a] Judge Louise Lemelin of the Quebec Superior Court ruled in the couple's favour on September 6, 2002, though the ruling would not take effect until March 19, 2004, when the Court of Appeal ruled that marriage licences must be issued immediately. A lawyer representing the plaintiff couple told the Montreal Gazette:

What makes the Quebec victory important for all of Canada is that [Judge Lemelin] had the chance to look at a civil-union law and to comment herself as to whether that would be enough of a solution for gay and lesbian couples. But Judge Lemelin said in very strong terms that a civil union, as wonderful as it is because of all the economic rights that it gives, is still not marriage.

The provincial and federal governments had initially opposed the court bid; provincial Attorney General Paul Bégin argued that "gays and lesbians were not suffering any form of discrimination in [Quebec]", while federal Attorney General Anne McLellan argued that the definition of marriage was at the Parliament of Canada's discretion and not a matter for the courts to decide.[1] The federal government had filed an appeal of the decision of the Superior Court on September 9, 2002 but abandoned that appeal in 2003. The case continued, with a group of religious conservatives, including Roman Catholic and Jewish officials, opposing the plaintiffs' claims. The group argued that the legalisation of same-sex marriage was unconstitutional under the Constitution Act, 1867, would prevent heterosexual couples from marrying and "weaken the meaning of marriage". The Court of Appeal unanimously rejected the group's appeal on March 19.[4] Following the court decision, provincial Attorney General Marc Bellemare announced that the government would abide by the ruling.[1]

The Quebec decision meant that more than two-thirds of the Canadian population were living in provinces where same-sex marriage is legal.[5] Subsequent cases, as well as federal legislation, have expanded this number to cover the entire country.

Provincial legislation

Civil unions

Main article: Civil unions in Quebec

In 2002, the National Assembly of Quebec unanimously passed a bill legalising civil unions for both same-sex and opposite-sex partners, offering many of the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage,[6] including the right to adopt children jointly. Civil unions are performed by court clerks, notaries, mayors, members of municipal councils or borough councils, municipal officials or authorised religious officiants. Once the document is signed by both partners and the witnesses, the union is formally registered with the Director of Civil Status. Quebec civil unions are not recognised in other parts of Canada or other countries.


In November 2004, the National Assembly enacted An Act to amend the Civil Code as regards marriage (French: Loi modifiant le Code civil relativement au mariage), amending the Civil Code of Quebec to replace references to "husband and wife" with "spouses" and permit civil unions to be converted to marriages.[7] Quebec became the first province in Canada to bring its laws in line with the legalisation of same-sex marriage and add a gender-neutral definition of spouse in its marriage laws.

Marriage and civil union statistics

From 2004 to 2020, 9,168 same-sex marriages were performed in Quebec, representing about 2.5% of all marriages contracted during that time.[8] There were also 1,237 same-sex civil unions (from 2002 to 2020), representing about 29% of all civil unions.

Between 2004 and 2008, 17% of same-sex marriages were between couples from other provinces or territories, or from the United States.[9] The following table shows the number of marriages and civil unions performed in Quebec as per data published by the Institut de la statistique du Québec. Figures for 2020 are lower than previous years because of the restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marriages and civil unions in Quebec[8]
Year Same-sex marriages Total marriages % same-sex Same-sex civil unions Total unions % same-sex
Female Male Total Female Male Total
2002 - - - - - 69 87 156 166 94.0%
2003 - - - - - 134 140 274 342 80.1%
2004 97 148 245 21,279 1.15% 31 48 79 179 44.1%
2005 173 278 451 22,244 2.03% 24 35 59 172 34.3%
2006 272 349 621 21,956 2.83% 19 34 53 216 24.5%
2007 216 251 467 22,147 2.11% 17 26 43 241 17.8%
2008 186 262 448 22,053 2.03% 25 44 69 270 25.6%
2009 222 291 513 22,588 2.27% 26 28 54 239 22.6%
2010 234 281 515 23,199 2.22% 19 36 55 280 19.6%
2011 256 237 493 22,903 2.15% 27 32 59 240 24.6%
2012 259 255 514 23,504 2.19% 26 33 59 288 20.5%
2013 306 286 592 23,181 2.55% 23 27 50 290 17.2%
2014 291 286 577 22,429 2.57% 20 17 37 240 15.4%
2015 285 315 600 22,441 2.67% 15 22 37 228 16.2%
2016 317 343 660 21,958 3.01% 13 13 26 223 11.7%
2017 336 343 679 22,883 2.97% 17 22 39 219 17.8%
2018 385 323 708 22,841 3.10% 18 17 35 237 14.8%
2019 365 318 683 22,246 3.07% 14 20 34 207 16.4%
2020 193 209 402 11,306 3.56% 7 12 19 119 16.0%

Religious performance

In 2008, the synod of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal voted to allow its parishes to bless same-sex unions. The measure includes a freedom of conscience clause for clergy opposed to blessing same-sex unions.[10] In July 2016, Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson said she would allow her clergy to perform same-sex marriages.[11]

Similarly, the Anglican Diocese of Quebec has allowed blessings of same-sex unions since 2012.[12] Bishop Bruce Myers expressed disappointment in July 2019 when the Anglican Church of Canada narrowly rejected a motion to approve same-sex marriage. On 24 November 2019, the synod of the Diocese of Quebec voted 37–6 to request Bishop Myers to authorise the solemnisation of same-sex marriages.[13] In response to the request, Myers said, "You'll here more from me, because… what this motion also expects is that I will come back to the diocese with some specifics around how such a request would be implemented, and being clear about things like safeguards for those who do not wish to exercise and offer this ministry."[14]

The Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, which encompasses parts of western Quebec, including the Outaouais region, has allowed solemnisations of same-sex marriages since 2016.[15] Same-sex marriages are not performed in the Anglican Diocese of Moosonee, which encompasses the northwestern Eeyou Istchee communities. The marriage canon of the Anglican Church of Canada serves as the canon on marriage in the diocese.[16] Similarly, the Diocese of The Arctic, encompassing the northern Nunavik region, does not allow its parishes to perform same-sex marriages.[17]

Public opinion

A 2017 CROP poll showed that Quebec had the highest popular support for same-sex marriage in Canada, at 80%. Nationwide, 74% of Canadians found it "great that in Canada, two people of the same sex can get married", while 26% disagreed.[18][19]

See also


  1. ^ Cree: ᑳᓈᑖ ᑲᔅᒋᐦᐆᓐᐦ ᑲᔦᐦ ᑲᔦᐦ ᐃᐦᑑᑕᒧᐧᐃᓐᐦ ᐁᑳ ᒉ ᒌ ᐃᒉᓇᐦᑲᓅᑦ ᐊᐧᐁᓐ, Kānātā kaschihūnh kayeh kayeh ihtūtamuwinh ekā che chī ichenahkanūt awen;[2] Mohawk: Aoianerénhsera ne Iakoianerenhserá꞉ien tánon Aiontatewenní꞉iohake,[3] pronounced [ao.janɛˈrʌ̃sɛra nɛ jago.janɛrʌ̃sɛˈráːjʌ̃ ˈdanũ a.jũdadɛwʌ̃ˈníːjohagɛ]


  1. ^ a b c "Same-sex marriage in Quebec, Canada". Religious Tolerance.
  2. ^ "ᐁ ᐋᐸᒋᐦᑖᑲᓅᒡ ᐁᑎ ᐃᑎᔅᑳᓀᓯᒥᑯᒡ ᐊᔨᒧᐧᐃᓐ ᐁ ᐅᐦᒋ ᓂᔥᑐᐧᐄᔥᑕᑲᓅᒡ ᒉᐧᑳᓐ ᐊᓂᑌᐦ ᒋᔐᐅᒋᒫᐅᐧᐋᔅᑳᐦᐄᑲᓐ ᑲᔦᐦ ᐊᓂᒌ ᑳ ᒫᒨᐱᔥᑕᐧᑳᐤᐦ". (in Cree).
  3. ^ "Tiohtià:ke Aoianerénhsera ne Iakoianerenhserá:wis tánon Iakoterihwaíen:nis" (PDF). (in Mohawk).
  4. ^ "Mariage homosexuel au Québec - Mais oui, il y a eu un débat!". LeDevoir (in French). 24 January 2013.
  5. ^ "Dévoilement d'un jugement permettant le mariage entre conjoints de même sexe". (in French). 20 March 2004.
  6. ^ "Bill n°84 : An Act instituting civil unions and establishing new rules of filiation". National Assembly of Quebec. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  7. ^ "Bill n°59 : An Act to amend the Civil Code as regards marriage". National Assembly of Quebec. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Mariages et unions civiles selon le sexe des conjoints, Québec, 2002-2020". Institut de la statistique du Québec (in French).
  9. ^ Asselin, Pierre (3 June 2009). "Le Québec, destination mariage pour couples de même sexe" (in French).
  10. ^ Leclerc, Jean-Claude (3 November 2008). "Les mariages gais - Les anglicans de Montréal optent pour la liberté de choix". Le Devoir (in French).
  11. ^ Laframboise, Kalina (12 July 2016). "Same-sex marriage in Montreal's Anglican church will go ahead despite vote, bishop says". CBC News.
  12. ^ "Synode général, réalisations et mariage". Anglican Diocese of Quebec (in French).
  13. ^ "Information for delegates to the 85th (Ordinary) Session of the Synod of the Diocese of Quebec". Anglican Diocese of Quebec.
  14. ^ Townsend, Matthew (December 2019). "Primate brings to Synod open discussion of change, challenges ahead for church" (PDF). Quebec Diocesan Gazette.
  15. ^ "Bishop John's letter in response to General Synod's vote to amend Marriage Canon XXI". Retrieved 2016-07-12.
  16. ^ "Canons of the Diocese of Moosonee" (PDF). Anglican Diocese of Moosonee. May 13, 2021.
  17. ^ "At national gathering, Arctic Anglicans say no to same-sex marriage". Nunatsiaq News. 22 July 2019.
  18. ^ I find it great that in our society, two people of the same sex can get married, CROP Panorama
  19. ^ Are you in favour of same-sex marriage? 74% of Canadians and 80% of Quebecers support it (and Death in Venice by Benjamin Britten)