Canada moves to repeal 'discriminatory' gay sodomy law

A woman lies on the ground under a huge rainbow flag during the Gay Pride parade in Belgrade on Sept 18, 2016.
A woman lies on the ground under a huge rainbow flag during the Gay Pride parade in Belgrade on Sept 18, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

OTTAWA (AFP) - Canada's attorney general announced Tuesday (Nov 15) a move to repeal legislation used to effectively prosecute gay youths who engage in anal sex, calling it "discriminatory."

Section 159 of the Criminal Code makes anal sex involving youths who are above the age of consent but not yet 18 punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

It was quashed as unconstitutional by lower courts in the 1990s but continued to be used to prosecute dozens of people in recent years, according to government statistics cited by rights group Egale.

"This section of the criminal code is discriminatory," Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told a press conference.

"Our society has evolved over the past few decades and our criminal justice system needs to evolve as well," she said.

Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed a special advisor on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues.

MP Randy Boissonnault is expected to consult with the LBGT community on a formal apology for decades of persecution and discriminations.

The initiatives are part of the Trudeau administration's efforts to normalise and promote LGBT rights both domestically and abroad - including supporting violence-prevention programmes and advocacy efforts, and combatting homophobia in schools.

In May, the government introduced legislation shielding transgender people from discrimination and hate speech.

The bill bans discrimination by "gender identity" under the Canadian Human Rights Act, alongside race, religion, age, sex and sexual orientation.

Two months later, Trudeau became the first sitting prime minister to march in a gay pride parade in Toronto.