Solemnization of marriage by religious officials

There is an exception to the rule that services and facilities must be offered without discrimination. It allows a religious official to refuse to perform a marriage ceremony, to refuse to make available a sacred place for performing a marriage ceremony or for an event related to a marriage ceremony, or to assist in the marriage ceremony where the ceremony would be against the person’s religious beliefs or the principles of their religion.

This section would apply to allow religious officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages without violating the Code. Requiring a religious official to perform a marriage ceremony that goes against his or her religious beliefs about marriage may violate that person’s right to freedom of religion as protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

However, nothing in this section permits public officials who are licensed to perform marriage ceremonies to refuse to perform this service for same-sex couples. The section only applies to religious officials.[33]

[33] For more information on the right to be free from discrimination because of sexual orientation, see the OHRC’s Policy on discrimination and harassment because of sexual orientation (2006).

Code Grounds: