Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has issued an apology for the Canadian government’s historic mistreatment of and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals.
“Mr. Speaker, today we acknowledge an often overlooked part of Canada’s history. Today we finally talk about Canada’s role in the systemic oppression, criminalization, and violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and Two-Spirit communities,” Trudeau said, opening his remarks at the Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa. CTV summarized the speech that followed:
The expression of regret, and the emotional reaction to its delivery, built like a crescendo as Trudeau walked through the ways the federal government caused harm to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirited people, a term used broadly to describe Indigenous Peoples who identify as part of the community.
That included the criminalization of homosexual sexual activity, raids on bathhouses, public humiliation and efforts to rid the military and the public service of LGBTQ people, until as recently as 1992.
Finally came the apology itself: “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 apologize,” he said. “I am sorry. We are sorry.”
Accompanying the speech are measures that would attempt to make some amends. The Guardian reported:
The government also introduced legislation that would allow people to apply to have their criminal convictions for consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners erased from public record.
It has also earmarked more than $100m Canadian (US $78m) to compensate members of the military and other federal agencies whose careers were sidelined or ended due to their sexual orientation, part of a class-action settlement with employees who were investigated, sanctioned and sometimes fired as part of the so-called “gay purge”.
Trudeau’s remarks come on the heels of another apology, to survivors of residential schools: “The treatment of Indigenous children in residential schools is a dark and shameful chapter in our country’s history,” he said in a speech on November 24, CBC reports.
Another parliamentary leader, Guy Caron of the NDP, welcomed the apology to LGBTQ individuals but noted the amount of work left: “This would be a good time to stop doing things the government might have to apologize for in the future,” he told CTV. A good rule for everyone, about everything, forever.