Introduction of Legislation to Strengthen Equality Rights

Justice Canada

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada has introduced legislation that would ensure respect for equality rights by repealing section 159 of the Criminal Code.

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Under this provision, the age of consent for unmarried persons to engage in anal intercourse is 18 years. The age of consent for any other form of non-exploitive sexual activity is 16. Section 159 makes an exception for consensual anal intercourse between married spouses if they are of the opposite sex, but not if they are of the same sex.

Several appellate courts have found the provision violates equality rights guaranteed by section 15 of the Charter because consensual anal sex is treated differently than other forms of consensual sexual activity.

Repealing section 159 would prevent charges being laid against persons who engage in non-exploitive, consensual anal intercourse.