Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated that he intends to apologise to the nation’s LGBTI citizens, and pardon those who where convicted under homophobic legislation of the past.
Prior to law reform which took place in 1969, same-sex sexual activity was illegal in Canada, resulting in many people being jailed and having their reputations ruined for breaking the homophobic legislation.
Justin Trudeau’s decision to apologise to, and pardon those who were convicted under the legal discrimination and open prejudice against the LGBTI community has been welcomed by LGBTI Canadians and raises the question of when other nations will follow suit.
With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s apology on behalf of all Canadians to those who were imprisoned, fired from their jobs or otherwise persecuted in the past because of their sexuality is expected in the next few months, Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale, a national organisation that advocates for the rights of sexual minorities says:
“This is a long-awaited moment and a very emotional moment … for the government to recognise the damage that it caused, the harm that it caused, to thousands and thousands of Canadians is a historic moment for our communities.”
The Canadian Prime Minister’s apology appears to be first of the many recommendations of The Just Society to be acted on by his Liberal Government.
According to Canadian News Publication The Globe and Mail, Justin’s Government intend to act on the majority of recommendations that appeared in The Just Society report, including:
- Apologising to people who were convicted of gross indecency for committing homosexual acts in the years before 1969, when same-sex acts between consensual adults were decriminalized. Those convictions will be pardoned, expunged or in some other fashion stricken from the records of those convicted.
- Apologising to those who were dismissed from the public service, discharged from the military or otherwise discriminated against in government work because they were homosexual. It was only in the 1990s that the federal government ceased efforts to identify and expel homosexuals in the military.
- Eliminating the difference in the age of consent for sexual acts. The current age of consent is 16, but it is 18 for anal intercourse, which discriminates against and stigmatises young homosexuals.
- Examining whether and how to compensate those who suffered past discrimination because of who they were or whom they loved. This could involve individual compensation and/or funding for programs or services.
- Requiring all police officers or others who work in the justice system to receive human-rights training, with an emphasis on the historic wrong of treating members of sexual minorities as criminals and on the current bias that all too often still exists.
- Providing similar training to Customs officials, who still are more likely to ban homosexual materials from crossing the border, while permitting their heterosexual equivalents.
- Implementing procedures to protect the dignity of transgender or intersex persons in prisons or jails.
- Eliminating laws, such as keeping a bawdy house, that can be used to criminally charge those who visit a bathhouse or who practise group sex.
The Canadian Government’s planned reforms will place Canada at the forefront of countries that are moving to redress past wrongs committed against members of sexual minorities, with Germany also taking similar actions.
Last Updated on Aug 14, 2016