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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 September, 2004, 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK
Court approves first gay divorce
Lesbian couple in California
Most Canadians favour same-sex marriage
A court in Canada has approved what is believed to be the world's first same-sex divorce.

The women, identified only as MM and JH, wed on 18 June 2003 - a week after the province legalised same-sex unions - but separated five days later.

The Ontario court made its decision after the judge said a definition of spouses in the country's divorce law as male and female had "no force".

Canada's government has agreed not to contest the couple's right to divorce.

We believe this is not just the first gay or lesbian divorce in Canada, but actually the first gay or lesbian divorce in the world
Martha McCarthy, lawyer

The divorce act still refers to a spouse as "of a man or a woman who are married to each other".

But in July, hours after the couple's divorce petition was announced, the Canadian Justice Department said the act was unconstitutional.

The Associated Press news agency quoted MM's lawyer, Martha McCarthy, as saying that the couple - who had been together for a number of years - had realised soon after their marriage that they had made a mistake.

"They ironically believed marriage would solve their problems."

She described the ruling as historic.

"We believe this is not just the first gay or lesbian divorce in Canada, but actually the first gay or lesbian divorce in the world," she said.

Gay marriage is already legal in three Canadian provinces - Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia - and in Yukon Territory.

The country's Supreme Court will examine the constitutionality of national draft legislation allowing gay marriage in three weeks' time.




SEE ALSO:
Canada gets 'first' gay divorce
21 Jul 04  |  Americas
Close vote on Canada gay marriage
17 Sep 03  |  Americas
Canada pushes gay marriage
17 Jun 03  |  Americas
Canadian debate on gay marriage
11 Jun 03  |  Americas
Ontario legalises gay marriage
11 Jun 03  |  Americas


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