It’s big news in the age of Trump when our neighbor to the north apologizes for the mistreatment of its LGBT citizens.
Today, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went public to formally offer his regrets that during the last half century, hundreds of gay men and women lost their government jobs and opportunities to serve in the military.
His administration is also offering something close to reparations for past damages done by earmarking some $100 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by victims of the LGBT purge.
In addition, Trudeau is introducing legislation in parliament to would allow records of people criminalized for their sexuality to be wiped from the books. In the House of Commons, Trudeau said simply, “It is with shame and sorrow and deep regret for the things we have done that I stand here today and say: We were wrong. We apologise. I am sorry. We are sorry.”
Trudeau went even further to decry opposition to same-sex marriage and the work of gay artists that once commonly held as “obscene” and often banned from public display. “While we may regard modern Canada as a forward-thinking and progressive nation,” the Prime Minister said, “we cannot forget our past.”
The Canadian government ended its policies of LGBT discrimination in 1992 — a year before the U.S. began to allow its gay and lesbian soldiers to serve under a half-measure that became known and widely derided as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” In 1996, the Canadian government amended its Human Rights Act to incorporate sexual orientation. Earlier this year, gender identity and gender orientation were also added.
Trudeau concluded with a call for his country to end homophobia and discrimination — including blocking gay men from donating to blood banks and the prosecution of those who do not disclose their HIV status. In the Prime Minister’s words,”We are all worthy of love. Whether you discover who you are at six, 16 or 60, we are all valid.”
Last modified: December 6, 2017