The Canadian government will apologize to the LGBT community for historical discrimination by the end of year.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement at a rainbow and trans flag-raising ceremony on Parliament Hill on June 14, 2017. He also confirmed that the government will introduce legislation to expunge criminal convictions of people charged under homophobic laws before the end of the year.
“This year’s ceremony marks another milestone as we acknowledge and work to rectify historical injustices experienced by Canadians due to their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression,” he said. “I believe that it’s essential to make amends for past wrongs, not to simply gloss over them.”
The Liberal government still has not made it clear whether or not people who were convicted under homophobic laws or were purged from the civil service and military will be entitled to compensation.
The government’s decision was prompted by a 2016 Globe and Mail investigation that examined the case of Everett George Klippert, who was jailed as a dangerous sexual offender for having consensual sex with other men. Klippert’s case was the impetus for decriminalizing gay sex in some limited cases in 1969.
However, LGBT people continued to be prosecuted for consensual sex under gross indecency and bawdy house laws well into the 1980s. LGBT members of the military and public service were purged until the 1990s.
Even today, gay sex is illegal for anyone under 18 and if more than two people are involved. The government has introduced legislation that would remove that portion of the Criminal Code, but that has yet to move through Parliament.
Last year, Trudeau told Xtra that Canada had an obligation to make amends to the thousands of LGBT people who have been mistreated by the Canadian state.
“We need to make sure that as a country we’re living up to our values and making sure we acknowledge where we went wrong in the past so that we never do again,” he said.