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Family and marital status

The Code includes two grounds that provide protections for persons in relationships: marital status and family status. “Marital status” is defined in section 10 of the Code as “the status of being married, single, widowed, divorced or separated and includes the status of living with a person in a conjugal relationship outside marriage”, including both same-sex and opposite sex relationships.

Family status” is defined as “the status of being in a parent and child relationship.”  This can also mean a parent and child “type” of relationship, embracing a range of circumstances without blood or adoptive ties but with similar relationships of care, responsibility and commitment.

The grounds of marital and family status intersect to cover a range of family forms, including lone parent and blended families, as well as families where the parents are in a ‘common law’ relationship. 

Relevant policy:

  1. Policy and guidelines on discrimination because of family status

    March 2007 - This Policy sets out the Commission’s position on discrimination on the basis of family status as it relates to the provisions of the Code. It deals only with issues that fall within the Code and that could be the subject of a human rights complaint. At the same time, the Policy interprets the protections of the Code in a broad and purposive manner, consistent with the principle that the quasi-constitutional status of the Code requires that it be given a liberal interpretation that best ensures its anti-discriminatory goals are attained. The Commission’s Consultation Report contains a broader examination of social policy issues affecting persons disadvantaged by family status.