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)

News Views: Being equal

The federal government will spend $145-million to compensate members of the military and other federal agencies who were purged from public service for being gay or lesbian.

And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to offering an apology for LGBTQ discrimination, as well as pardons for those convicted of what are no longer crimes.

The amount is the largest financial commitment by any national government for past wrongs committed against sexual minorities.

Funds will also be dedicated to creating a memorial in Ottawa for victims of past LGBTQ discrimination, as well as for education and other projects across Canada.

History is being made.

And while the apology is important, to prevent such discrimination in the future, more work remains.

An anti-LGBT group in B.C. is opposed to teaching sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) curriculum in public schools.

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld has denounced it, and amid criticism announced that he will seek re-election on that basis, stating he is not a “bigot,” or a “homophobe,” but supports “traditional family values.”

He said “letting little children choose to change gender is nothing short of child abuse.”

As Education Minister Rob Fleming said, trustees can have their own opinions, but the province’s public education system is one that values human rights, democracy and inclusion, to counter bullying.

In Germany, the Holocaust is remembered with monuments in Berlin. The concept is called Vergangenheitsbewältigung, which means coping with the past.

Holocaust Memorial Day is commemorated through the laying of wreaths at memorials around the capital city. There are memorials to other minorities, such as the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism, which features a television screen, showing two men kissing.

How about a statue in Ottawa of Everett George Klippert – the last person in Canada to be arrested, charged, prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned for homosexuality before its decriminalization in 1969.

Toronto has a statue of Alexander Wood, a pioneer of that city’s gay community.

The federal apology is important, and a long time coming. But more is needed, reforms to continue to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Canadians.

It starts and ends with equality.

We must learn from our past.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

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