Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has delivered a formal and historic apology in the House of Commons to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians (LGBTQ2) oppressed and discriminated by past federal legislation, policies and practices.
Speaking to a packed and emotional chamber, Trudeau said on Tuesday “it is our collective shame that Canadians who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or two-spirit were unjustly treated – fired from jobs, denied promotions, surveilled, arrested, convicted, and vindictively shamed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity”, Xinhua reported
“People lost their livelihoods, their families, and, some, their lives. Today, we offer a long overdue apology to all those whom we, the Government of Canada, wronged. We are sorry. We hope by acknowledging our failings we can make the crucial progress LGBTQ2 people in Canada deserve, ” he said.
Trudeau apologised specifically for the historical unjust treatment of LGBTQ2 federal public servants.
“Those who admitted they were gay were fired, discharged, or intimidated into resignation. They lost dignity, lost careers, and had their dreams and indeed, their lives, shattered.”
Between 1950s and 1990s, the Canadian government interrogated and fired or demoted thousands of members of the military, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and public service for their sexual orientation. Before the law changed in 1969, thousands of Canadians were convicted for same-sex acts, which were illegal.
“This is going to be an important day obviously, for the LGBTQ2 community. It’s also an important day for all Canadians. We need to recognize ills of the past in order to be able to move forward and that’ s what we’re taking responsibility for,” added the Canadian prime minister.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Trudeau government introduced legislation – Bill C-66, the Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act – that will put into place a process to permanently destroy the records of convictions for offences involving consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners.
Bill C-66 also allows for spouses, parents, siblings, children or legal representatives to apply for record expungement on behalf of deceased persons.
The government has earmarked more than 100 million Canadian dollars (about $78 million) to compensate members of the military and other federal agencies whose careers were sidelined or ended due to their sexual orientation.