Gay Canadians still face an inequality which may surprise you

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The Commonwealth Games drew attention to human rights violations against LGBT people in many member nations, but it may surprise you to know that Canada, known for having taken steps forward for LGBT equality, still discriminates against its gay citizens.

In Canada, the federal age of consent is 16, for anal intercourse outside of marriage, the age of consent is 18.

Canada also criminalises anal intercourse if more than two people are present, unlike other forms of sexual activity where no such restriction applies.

The law affects couples both straight and gay, however indirectly discriminates against same-sex couples, as a gay male couple cannot have vaginal sex.

Jonathan Cooper, Chief Executive of the Human Dignity Trust, a legal organisation which fights for fundamental human rights around the world, told PinkNews: “It’s extraordinary that a country so committed in principle to equality still maintains on its statute books an unequal age of consent – a law that criminalises gay men.

“Canada should be a country we can all look to for global leadership on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality and therefore all its laws must reflect its own Charter of Rights and Constitution, which protects against discrimination and enshrines equality for all citizens.

“Equality works. Societies that are premised on equality are stronger, richer and happier. As a priority, Canada should remove this egregious anomaly that sends out a message that gay men in Canada are less equal than everyone else.”

The unequal age of consent law has been deemed unconstitutional by five provincial courts. These decisions, however, are only binding in those provinces. The Federal Parliament has failed to repeal the relevant statutory provisions despite these decisions.

Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Quebec all declared the unequal age of consent to be unconstitutional.

Despite that technically, the federal age of consent for anal sex is 16 for married couples, in the provinces where there is an unequal age of consent, it is not possible to marry until the age of 18.

The age of consent was raised from 14 to 16 back in 2006. Same-sex marriage was introduced in Canada in 2005.