Lovelace v. Canada

U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/OP/1 at 10 (1979)

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Lovelace v. Canada

United Nations Human Rights Committee
U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/OP/1 at 10 (1979)

Facts

Under the first optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), an individual who believes that a signatory country has violated the individual’s rights may file a petition with the United Nations Human Rights Committee (the committee) seeking relief. Sandra Lovelace (plaintiff) was a Canadian citizen of Maliseet Indian origin who married a non-Indian man. In December 1977, Lovelace filed a communication against Canada (defendant) with the committee, asserting that under Canada’s Indian Act, an Indian woman who married a non-Indian man lost her rights and status as an Indian after marriage. Lovelace further asserted that an Indian man who married a non-Indian woman would not suffer the same loss of Indian status. Therefore, Lovelace claimed that the Indian Act discriminated based on sex and was contrary to the ICCPR. Although the committee’s rules required the exhaustion of domestic remedies before raising a communication to the committee, Lovelace asserted that her domestic remedies had been exhausted in Canada because of a 1974 Canada Supreme Court decision that had upheld the Indian Act’s loss-of-status provision over a litigant’s challenge based on the Canadian Bill of Rights. The committee issued a decision regarding whether the committee would accept Lovelace’s communication.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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