Trudeau apologizes for decades of LGBTQ discrimination by federal agencies

‘I am sorry. We are sorry,’ Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is apologizing on behalf of the federal government for perpetrating decades of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.

Dozens of people — including two of Trudeau’s own kids, Xavier and Ella-Grace — were crammed into the various House of Commons galleries, many of them sporting rainbow ribbons, to witness the historic occasion, which the prime minister says he hopes will finally allow the healing process to begin for those affected.

“This is the devastating story of people who were branded criminals by the government — people who lost their livelihoods, and in some cases, their lives,” Trudeau says in prepared remarks.

“These aren’t distant practices of governments long forgotten. This happened systematically, in Canada, with a timeline more recent than any of us would like to admit.”

Earlier Tuesday, the government introduced legislation which, if passed, will allow the expungement of criminal records belonging to people convicted of consensual sexual activity with same-sex partners.

It has also 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, part of a class-action settlement with employees who were investigated, sanctioned and sometimes fired as part of the so-called “gay purge.”

READ MORE: PM promises apology to LGBTQ2 community

The number one job of any government is to keep its citizens safe. And on this, we have failed LGBTQ2 people, time and time again,” Trudeau says in his remarks, using an acronym that includes reference to Indigenous people known as “two-spirit.”

“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.

“I am sorry. We are sorry.”

The government is also putting $250,000 toward community projects to combat homophobia and provide support for people in crisis, and plans a commemoration in 2019 to mark the 50th anniversary of the federal decriminalization of homosexual acts.

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 as a result of what was considered “character weakness.”

“This thinking was prejudiced and flawed,” Trudeau says. “Sadly, what resulted was nothing short of a witch hunt.

“Those arrested and charged were purposefully and vindictively shamed. Their names appeared in newspapers in order to humiliate them, and their families. Lives were destroyed. And tragically, lives were lost.”

Premier John Horgan ‘welcomes’ federal apology

Since Trudeau’s speech in the House of Commons, Premier John Horgan has issued a statement welcoming the apology.

“Words cannot reverse Canada’s shameful treatment of LGBTQ2S+ people. But they can help heal the wounds left behind by the harmful laws and policies of the past,” he said.

“While Canada has been making strides since the 1960s to offer LGBTQ2S+ people full and equal protection in the law, more must be done to make sure everyone is free and unafraid to be who they are.”

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

Just Posted

B.C. families financially affected by pandemic eligible for grocery gift cards

Program open to struggling families in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley communities

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

LETTER: Keeping Canada-U.S. borders closed is issue of safety, not bigotry

Only walls Trump deserves come in a set of four, and are found in a prison or institution: Reader

LETTER: CERB is simply worsening overdose issues in Maple Ridge

Taxpayer money is going to help buy more drugs and increase cases of death on local streets: Reader

Ridge Meadows Soccer welcomes former Whitecaps coach to club

Craig Dalrymple will join organization as new sporting director

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Most Read