Journal Article

Discrimination against same-sex couples in tax law

R Mickman

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 13, issue 1, pages 33-51
Published in print April 1999 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online April 1999 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/13.1.33
Discrimination against same-sex couples in tax law

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In Canada the law is beginning to recognize the equality rights of lesbians and gay men in a slow but progressive manner. The Federal Government appears to be following suit. On 22 April 1998 the Ontario Court of Appeal decided in favour of extending the definition of 'spouse' under the federal Income Tax Act to include the partners of lesbians and gay men for the purposes of survivor pension benefits. The Federal Government announced on 22 June that it would not appeal the decision and is expected to amend the statutory definition of 'spouse' accordingly.

This article summarizes the facts in the case of Rosenberg et al. v Canada (Attorney General) which gave rise to the appellate court's decision. It also discusses the implications of that decision against the backdrop of how Canadian income tax law has discriminated against same-sex couples. It recounts a number of important legal developments leading up to the Court's decision and contemplates the direction that further changes will take. Despite their ostensible victory in the Rosenberg case, lesbians and gay men continue to experience discrimination and inequality in social, economic and legal spheres.

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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