Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will issue a formal apology to all LGBTQ+ citizens persecuted by the Canadian government for no reason other than their sexual orientation.
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Historic in every sense of the word, the apology will specifically address Canada’s history of ousting queer members of the military and public service employees.
The apology will also be directed towards Canadians who were criminally charged for gay sex acts back when such sexual practices were deemed illegal by law.
Trudeau took to Twitter to confirm the apology, which has been more than a year in the making.
On November 28, the Government will offer a formal apology to LGBTQ2 Canadians in the House - for the persecution & injustices they have suffered, and to advance together on the path to equality & inclusion.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 19, 2017
Between the 1950s and up to the early 1990s, scores of LGBTQ+ Canadians in military, RCMP, and civil service positions were fired simply for being themselves. Canada had a policy against gay/queer employees, deeming them a liability that needed to be removed.
For example, during the height of the Cold War, the Canadian government saw gay members of service as a potential entry-point for Russian intelligence operatives. If Russian spies found out a military officer was gay, they could use the information to blackmail the individual and gain sensitive information on Canada and the United States.
Instead of protecting Canadian citizens from blackmail or discrimination, the government decided to persecute queer Canadians. Thousands of Canadians were fired from their jobs or dishonourably discharged.
The government even had a homosexuality test, dubbed the “fruit machine.” An individual would be presented with sexually explicit images and government inspectors would then measure their arousal, using this as “proof” of their sexual orientation. This manufactured evidence would then be used to justify someone being fired.
Why such a policy lasted up until 1992 is a dark mystery, one the Prime Minister will hopefully shed some light on during the apology.
No financial settlement has been outlined for victims of the decades-long LGBTQ+ purge. Pardons and expunging of records, however, are expected.
The Canadian government’s apology to LGBTQ+ Canadians was alluded to by Trudeau over a year ago. The Trudeau government has been working with sexual minority advocacy group Egale Canada since then, using the group’s expertise to craft the formal apology.