The rights of LGBTQ+ persons* are very different from one country to another, so you might have lots of questions when you move to a new place. This article discusses the basic rights of LGBTQ+ persons in Canada, and in Quebec.
*Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer. The “+” refers to other groups sometimes added to the end of the LGBTQ acronym. To better understand the various LGBTQ+ terms, refer to the Egale Canada Human Rights Trust website.
Do you have to declare your sexual orientation?
No Quebec law forces you to declare your sexual orientation, to
- your employer,
- your landlord, or
- the government, such as immigration services.
Important! If you’re asking for refugee status because your sexual orientation puts your life in danger in your country, you might have to declare your sexual orientation. In this case, immigration services need to know why you’re asking for refugee status.
Do you have to hide your sexual orientation?
In Quebec, sexual orientation is part of a person’s private life. You don’t have to tell anyone about it, or keep it a secret. It’s your decision whether to tell others.
Quebec laws can’t protect you from rejection by family members or your religious community, but it can protect you in some areas of your life, such as work and housing.
Are you protected against discrimination?
In Quebec, you’re not allowed to be treated differently because of your ethnic origin, sex, religion, language, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. These are called prohibited grounds of discrimination, and they’re listed in Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
For example, an employer can’t refuse to hire you because you’re gay. Also, your employer can’t fire you or harass you psychologically because you’re gay. And a landlord can’t refuse to rent you an apartment for this reason.
These actions can be punished by law, and there are solutions for victims of discrimination who want to report what happened.
Are you protected against violence?
Many provincial and federal laws protect individuals from violence. For example, the Criminal Code defines different crimes and their punishments. Hate propaganda, promoting genocide and inciting the public to hate an identifiable group are not allowed and are considered crimes.
An identifiable group is a group of people who can be distinguished based on ethnic origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Also, in Quebec, conversion practices and therapies, which are a form of violence, are now illegal. So, it is illegal to offer any service or therapy aimed at
- changing someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, or
- repressing sexual behaviour that is not heterosexual.
It does not matter whether the service or therapy is spiritual or not: it is still illegal.
Important! People are allowed to take steps to affirm or accept their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. It is also legal to accompany someone who is taking these steps. For example, people can be accompanied by a psychologist if they are questioning themselves about their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Anyone who has undergone a conversion practice or therapy can ask a court for compensation for any harm suffered. Even if the harm happened during childhood, there is no deadline for making this request to a court.
To learn more about the deadlines for going to court, see our articles Prescription and No More Deadline to Sue for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.
If the service or therapy was offered by a member of a professional order, you can file a complaint with the professional order. This could be the order of psychologists or the order of social workers, for example. (A professional order is an organization that oversees a profession.) The professional could lose the right to work in that profession or have to pay a fine of between $5,000 and $150,000. If the professional is at fault more than once, the fine is doubled.
It is a crime in Canada to cause someone to undergo conversion therapy. A person who has undergone conversion therapy can file a complaint with the police.
To learn more about the rights of LGBTQ+ persons in Quebec, refer to our web guide.