Same-sex marriage in Nunavut

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Legal status of same-sex unions

* Not yet in effect, but automatic deadline set by judicial body for same-sex marriage to become legal

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Same-sex marriage in Nunavut has been legal since 20 July 2005. The territory began granting marriage licences to same-sex couples upon the passage of the federal Civil Marriage Act.[1] Previously, beginning in October 2003, same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions were legally recognized in Nunavut.

Premier Paul Okalik's statement[edit]

On 30 October 2003, Premier Paul Okalik made the following statement:[1]

"If developments in the Parliament of Canada and the Supreme Court of Canada result in the definition of marriage being broadened, we will respect the law and comply with that. In the meantime, anyone in Nunavut who has been legally married anywhere will be recognized by the Government of Nunavut as married."

He further suggested that the territory would perform same-sex divorces should the issue arise.

Premier Okalik succeeded in passing a territorial human rights code banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. As well, Nancy Karetak-Lindell, Liberal MP for the riding of Nunavut, was re-elected in the 2006 election after having supported same-sex marriage.[1]

During the March 2004 general election, one of Premier Okalik's main opponents ran on the basis that he would repeal the territory's human rights legislation on sexual orientation, and would not recognize same-sex marriages.

Territorial legislation[edit]

In October 2011, the Marriage Act (Inuktitut: ᑲᑎᑎᓯᒪᔪᓕᕆᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐱᖁᔭᖅ, katitisimajulirinirmut piqujaq;[2] Inuinnaqtun: Katitiviliqinikkut Maligaq; French: Loi sur le mariage) was amended by replacing the words "husband and wife" with "spouses". The Adoption Act (Inuktitut: ᑎᒍᐊᕐᓂᕐᒧᑦ ᐱᖁᔭᖅ, tiguarnirmut piqujaq; Inuinnaqtun: Tiguaqnikkut Maligaq; French: Loi sur l'adoption) was also amended by changing the definition of spouse to include same-sex couples,[3] thus allowing them to adopt children jointly.[4]

Marriage statistics[edit]

From July 2005 to October 2006, only one same-sex couple married in Nunavut, the lowest among all of Canada's states and territories.[5]

According to Statistics Canada, there were 25 same-sex couples living in Nunavut in 2016, though it is unknown how many of these were married, in a common-law marriage or cohabiting.[6]

The first same-sex marriage involving an Inuk man was performed in June 2017.[7] There had already been one marriage involving an Inuk lesbian couple. The first same-sex marriage in Cambridge Bay was performed in August 2018.[8]


  1. ^ a b c "Nunavut will recognize same-sex marriages". Equal Marriage for Same-Sex Couples. 7 November 2003. Archived from the original on 10 March 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2011.
  2. ^ "ᐱᕙᓪᓕᐊᔪᑦ ᓴᖅᑭᑕᐅᔪᑦ". (in Inuktitut).
  3. ^ "Maligait & Maliktaghat". (in Inuinnaqtun).CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)
  4. ^ "AN ACT TO AMEND SEVERAL ACTS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL VALIDITY (SPOUSAL BENEFITS AND OBLIGATIONS)" (PDF). Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. 23 October 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 August 2016.
  5. ^ "Over 12,000 Married Same-sex Couples".
  6. ^ "Focus on Geography Series, 2016 Census". Statistics Canada.
  7. ^ Hill, Angela (9 June 2017). "'Standing ovation' in Iqaluit bar greets milestone gay marriage in Nunavut". CBC News.
  8. ^ Neary, Derek (10 July 2018). "Cambridge Bay's first same-sex marriage getting 'incredible' support". Nunavut News.

External links[edit]