Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the Caring and Sharing Children’s Christmas Gala in Toronto, Monday November 27, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

$100M for ‘gay purge’ victims as Trudeau apologizes for discrimination

Prime Minister Trudeau apologizes for LGBTQ discrimination

The Trudeau government has earmarked more than $100 million to compensate members of the military and other federal agencies whose careers were sidelined or ended due to their sexual orientation, The Canadian Press has learned.

The money will be paid out as part of a class-action lawsuit settlement to employees who were investigated, sanctioned and sometimes fired as part of the so-called “gay purge.”

An agreement in principle in the court action emerged Friday, just days before the government delivers a sweeping apology for discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.

RELATED: LGBTQ advocates want military, RCMP to take part in apology

Details of the agreement must still be worked out by the parties and approved by the Federal Court, but it’s expected that several thousand people will be eligible for the financial compensation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will deliver the apology — which is expected to surpass what other countries have done to make amends to LGBTQ people — in the House of Commons following question period Tuesday.

A clear and unequivocal expression of regret to all affected is necessary to acknowledge the mistakes so “they will never happen again,” said Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, a special adviser to the prime minister on sexual orientation and gender issues.

Among apology-related initiatives, the government is putting $250,000 toward community projects to combat homophobia and provide support for people in crisis.

In addition, it plans a commemoration in 2019 of the 50th anniversary of the federal decriminalization of homosexual acts.

The government also plans to table legislation Tuesday to expunge the criminal records of people convicted of consensual sexual activity with same-sex partners, whether in civilian or military courts.

Those eligible will be required to apply for expungement; requests may be submitted on behalf of deceased people who were convicted.

The apology and associated efforts to recognize past wrongs will be genuinely historic, said Gary Kinsman, a sociology professor at Laurentian University and a leading scholar on the injustices for many years.

“It’s also been an incredibly long time coming,” said Kinsman, a spokesman for the We Demand an Apology Network, which includes people directly affected by the purge campaign as well as supporters and researchers.

“I’m very saddened by the fact that many of the people who really needed to be apologized to have passed away,” Kinsman said in an interview. “It should have happened decades ago, in my view.”

The discriminatory policies that often ruined careers and lives had their roots in federal efforts that began as early as the 1940s to delve into the personal lives of people who were considered security risks.

There is no evidence of a gay or lesbian employee ever giving information to Soviet agents or another foreign power, Kinsman said. On the contrary, victims of the purge say the only ones who tried to blackmail them were the RCMP or military security, trying to elicit information about friends and acquaintances in the public service.

“Really what it was about was pushing lesbians and gay men outside the fabric of the nation, defining our sexualities as being somehow a security risk,” Kinsman said. “And on the other side, defining heterosexuality as the national safe and secure sexuality.”

The apology is expected to include a federal commitment to reveal more of the hidden historical record of the government’s discriminatory policies and practices.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Meridian re-ignites its fundraising program to help local charities

A Maple Ridge-based food market aids in raising $50,000 during the first 10 months of its program

LETTER: Many Americans work in Canada and have U.S. licence plates

A letter writer challenges the notion that most U.S. licence plates belong to tourists

Maple Ridge woman says llama farming neighbour shot her 11-month-old pup

Young dog was on owner’s property when it was killed on June 21

PHOTOS: Otter Co-op opens in east Abbotsford

New grocery store hosts grand opening on Monday morning

Shoppers Drug Mart launches in-store virtual service at several B.C. stores

The service is now available in 12 rural B.C. communities and will expand province-wide in August

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

96-year-old woman scales B.C. butte with help of family, friends

‘I did as I was told and I enjoyed every minute of it’

Parallel crises: How COVID-19 exacerbated B.C.’s drug overdose emergency

Part 1: Officials say isolation, toxic drug supply, CERB, contributing to crisis

Canadians with disabilities disproportionately hit by COVID-19 pandemic

More than four out of 10 British Columbians aged 70 and up have various disabilities

Camping offers a great pandemic escape, for less money than you might think

But for many first-timers, knowing what to bring can be a challenge

Turbulence in Canadian opinion on airlines COVID-19 response: poll

Thousands of people have beseeched Transport Minister Marc Garneau to compel airlines to issue refunds,

Most Read