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Saskatchewan Court allows removal of gender from birth certificates

May 25, 2018

Saskatchewan has become the first jurisdiction in Canada where the Court has ordered the provincial government to allow for the removal of gender markers on birth certificates

Currently, the Northwest Territories along with Newfoundland and Labrador allow for non-binary markers on birth certificates. Alberta has amended its legislation to allow for the implementation of non-binary markers. And, in May of 2018, Ontario began providing options for “M”, “F”, or “X” or removal of gender markers on birth certificates, including for minors. Saskatchewan, however, is the first province or territory in our nation where the Court has ordered to allow for the removal of gender markers on birth certificates.

“This court order marks an important day in our province. The ability to remove gender markers from birth certificates will greatly benefit our transgender community,” said David Arnot, Chief Commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission. “I would like to thank the complainants and their families for their courageous pursuit of this important human rights issue. We know that transgender people and people who identify as non-binary face discrimination in many aspects of life — housing, employment, even travel restrictions — in part because of the mismatch between their gender identity and their government issued identification. This order is certainly a step towards resolving those issues.”

The Court of Queen’s Bench order issued yesterday afternoon was in response to two human rights complaints filed with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission — one in 2014 and the other in 2017. The Commission applied to the Court for a hearing on behalf of the complainants, and argued that portions of existing legislation — The Vital Statistics Act 2009 — are contrary to section 12 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. Section 12 of the Code states that no person or group can be denied accommodation, services, or facilities based on prohibited grounds —  in this case, the grounds of sex and gender identity.

The province admitted that sections 31 and 65 of The Vital Statistics Act did, in fact, breach The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, and has been ordered by the Court to remedy these breaches within 45 days.

This order from the Court removes the age limit, allowing people under the age of 18 to apply for changes to the gender marker on their birth certificate, and requires Government to allow for “M” and “F” designations to be removed.