Criminal Law and the LGBTQ Community

Criminal law is a branch of law that defines crimes, sets punishments for those crimes, and helps determine which individuals can be held responsible for the crimes they are accused of. It has been shown to disproportionately affect marginalized groups, including the LGBT community. This post will address criminal law in Canada and its implications for the LGBT community, with a particular focus on recent changes and potential future reforms.


Criminal Law and the Impact on Minority Groups

Criminal law is a branch of law that seeks to define, punish, and prevent crimes. It outlines what behaviours are considered criminal, sets punishments for those who break the law, and helps determine which individuals can be held responsible for their actions. Historically, criminal laws have been used to target marginalized and minority groups. This means that LGBT people have long faced discrimination within the criminal justice system.


What Is the Status of the LGBTQ Community?

Within the criminal justice system, LGBT people are still not given the same rights and protections as their heterosexual counterparts. Unfortunately, many laws remain discriminatory and continue to disproportionately impact LGBT people. In addition, there is still a lack of understanding of LGBT identities within criminal law, leading to limited legal recognition for them. As such, it is critical that more attention be paid to the status of the LGBTQ community and how they are affected by criminal law.


History of Criminalization for LGBTQ Individuals in Canada

Historical Context for Laws Targeting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) People

The criminal justice system has long been hostile towards LGBT people. Historically, a number of laws have been explicitly passed targeting LGBT people and their rights. In the United States, sodomy laws were used to prosecute individuals engaged in same-sex relations until they were declared unconstitutional in 2003. Meanwhile, anti-cross dressing laws were used to arrest transgender people until they were overturned in 2014. These examples demonstrate the legacy of discrimination against LGBT communities within the criminal justice system and its impact on minority groups.


Canadian Courts, Laws, and Stereotypes Pertaining to Sexual Orientation

In Canada, LGBT people have been increasingly given greater legal protections in recent years. In 2005, the Canadian Human Rights Act was amended to include sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for discrimination. This led to a number of legal victories for the LGBT community and recognition in courtrooms across the country. Despite these advances, however, stereotypes about LGBT people still exist and can influence how police officers and the legal system treat them. It is therefore important that more efforts be made to reduce these biases and ensure that LGBT communities receive equitable treatment within Canada’s justice system.


Recent Changes to Canadian Law with Regards to the LGBTQ Community

Supreme Court Decisions Stemming from Equality Rights Challenges

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been instrumental in advancing the rights of LGBT people. In recent decades, it has increasingly been used to challenge laws that discriminate against minority groups on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled in favour of equality rights, including landmark decisions such as Egan v Canada (1995), M. v H. (1999), and Halpern v Canada (2003). These decisions have had far-reaching implications for the legal rights of LGBT people in Canada, helping to create a more equitable society for all.


Possibilities for Further Changes in Canadian Legislation Regarding LGBTQ Rights

Canadian legislation regarding LGBT rights has come a long way in recent years, but there is still room for improvement. Current legislation, while offering protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, does not provide equitable treatment and equal access to services such as marriage and adoption. Furthermore, due to a lack of comprehensive hate crime laws at the federal level, many provinces have failed to implement comprehensive laws that address homophobic and transphobic violence. In order for Canada to fully embrace the values of equality and diversity, further changes must be made at the legislative level to ensure all citizens have access to the same rights and protections.



This discussion has looked at the importance of equal rights in Canada and the Supreme Court’s role in advancing these rights through a series of landmark decisions. It has also explored the current state of Canadian legislation regarding LGBT rights, and identified areas that could be further improved upon. In order for Canada to continue to be a leader in LGBT rights, it is essential that further changes are made at the legislative level to ensure all citizens have equal access to fundamental services such as marriage, adoption, and protection from hate crimes. Ultimately, full equality for everyone can only be achieved when everyone is treated with respect and dignity by both fellow citizens and government bodies alike.


If you have any further questions or would like to discuss your matter with us, feel free to call us at 905-366-0202 to arrange a free consultation with one of our criminal lawyers. Alternatively, you can contact us via our website here.

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