In December 2021, LEAF Québec and LEAF National submitted a brief to the Quebec National Assembly on Bill 2, An Act respecting family law reform with regard to filiation and amending the Civil Code in relation to personality rights and civil status.
The provincial government had reformed family law for the first time in 40 years, putting forward sweeping changes that will affect substantive gender equality. Among many other changes, the bill included transphobic proposals, a much-needed regime to regulate surrogacy, and mandated consideration of “family violence” when assessing the best interests of the child. It also provided an extremely short window in which to analyze its 116-page bill.
In its brief, LEAF outlined 15 recommendations intended to advance substantive gender equality and the rule of law. In particular, LEAF urged the government to:
- Provide at least four months from the time that it tables a bill to the time that it is sent to the Commission des institutions for detailed consideration.
- In the case of Bill 2, the government provided five weeks from the time that it tabled the bill to the time that it accepted feedback from civil society. As we stated in our submission, laws that do not consider input from civil society are inevitably less effective.
- Seek feedback from directly affected communities prior to tabling a bill.
- Ensure that clause 3 of the Bill, which defines the time at which a child is considered conceived for the purposes of the law, does not in any way affect abortion and other reproductive justice rights.
- Gender equality includes equality rights for trans, non-binary, and intersex people. For these reasons, the government must
- Eliminate the proposed “indeterminate” designation of sex, which will lead to non-consensual interventions in the lives of intersex children, and will stigmatize them;
- Make sure that there is only one (if any) designation of sex on birth certificates that includes the option to choose “non-binary”. The government’s choice in Bill 2 to separate “sex” from “gender” infringes dignity, equality, and privacy rights of trans and non-binary people.
- Withdraw the proposal to identify the fact that someone has legally transitioned on their birth certificate;
- Eliminate all provisions that would seek to impose any medical or surgical interventions related to changing one’s sex designation, a practice denounced since 2012 by the Quebec Human Rights Commission;
- Allow for anyone who chooses to self-identify as being a “mother”, “father”, or “parent”, rather than having this identification be dependent one’s designation of sex;
- Eliminate administrative fees for changes to one’s designation of sex and gender identity-related name changes.
- Explicitly recognize spousal violence.
- Define family or spousal violence along the lines of its definition in the Divorce Act, to ensure that children with unmarried parents benefit from the same protections as those that exist in the Divorce Act.
- Clarify that self-defence, or the defence of another, is not considered “family violence”.
- Eliminate administrative obstacles to requesting health services or social services when dealing with family, spousal, or sexual violence.
Read the full brief (in French only) here.Memoire-sur-le-Projet-de-loi-2-presente-a-la-Commission-des-institutions