Anal sex could soon be legal in Canada. The ruling Liberal government was expected to introduce Tuesday legislation that would remove a controversial provision banning anal intercourse for men under the age of 18.
Section 159 of the Criminal Code makes anal intercourse punishable by up to 10 years in prison. While sodomy was largely decriminalized in Canada in 1969 courtesy of a bill introduced by Pierre Trudeau, the then justice minister and father of current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it only applied to those either married or aged 21 or over. When that provision was revisited in the 1980s, it only lowered the permissible age to 18.
The legal age of consent in Canada is 16 years and LGBTQ activists have long claimed the anal sex law is discriminatory because it prevents young same-sex couples from enjoying the same rights as heterosexual ones.
“A lot of Canadians think that when Pierre Trudeau said ‘the state had no business in the bedrooms of the nation’ back in the ’60s, that that meant this law was repealed,” said Douglas Elliott, a Toronto-based lawyer and longtime gay rights activist, according to Canada’s Globe and Mail. “But in fact, all they did was create an exemption — an exemption that has always discriminated against gay men.”
Courts in the Canadian provinces of Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia have all ruled that the provision is unconstitutional, while Ontario also struck down the law in 1995. But police officers have continued to bring charges against Canadians under the rule. Between 2008 and 2014, 22 people were charged with anal intercourse under Section 159, according to a June report from Egale Canada Human Rights Trust.
Conservatives oppose changing the law. “It’s wide-open anal sex with anyone at any age, at any place, public or private, and there’s no way that it can be controlled,” Gwen Landolt of the conservative advocacy group REAL Women told LifeSite News in August. “They want to wipe out any controls that will prevent them from doing what they want, with whomever they want, in public or private.”
Trudeau has pledged to improve same-sex rights. In August, the prime minister announced he intends to apologize to Canadians who have been persecuted because of their sexuality.