Canadian PM Trudeau apologizes for past LGBT discrimination

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Updated Nov. 29, 2017 at 10:34 AM
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Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Canada will pay up to $85 million to compensate for past government-sanctioned discrimination against gay persons, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced.

Speaking emotionally in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Trudeau apologized to those affected by a 30-year policy of exclusion and prosecution, which ended in the 1990s.

Thousands lost jobs in what Canadians called the "gay purge." The policy affected those in the Canadian military, police and public service positions.

"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," Trudeau said. "For state-sponsored, systemic oppression and rejection, we are sorry. For suppressing two-spirit Indigenous values and beliefs, we are sorry. For abusing the power of the law, and making criminals of citizens, we are sorry. For government censorship, and constant attempts to undermine your community-building; For denying you equality, and forcing you to constantly fight for this equality, often at great cost; For forcing you to live closeted lives, for rendering you invisible, and for making you feel ashamed, We are deeply sorry.

"We were so very wrong. To all the LGBTQ2 people across this country who we have harmed in countless ways, we are sorry."

The term LGBTQ2, used primarily in Canada, refers to "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, two-spirited."

The Trudeau government also earmarked funds to compensate military and federal government personnel whose careers ended because of their sexual orientation. The money will be paid to settle a class-action lawsuit. A court agreement on the matter was reached last week and it's expected that several thousand people will be eligible for compensation.

The government said it will also underwrite community projects combating homophobia, and announced plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of federal decriminalization of homosexual acts in 2019.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police began a broad campaign in the 1950s to remove suspected gay personnel thought vulnerable to blackmail by the Soviet Union. Although there were no known cases of gay RCMP members passing information, about 9,000 people were investigated.

Although Canada decriminalized homosexuality in 1969, the campaign continued until 1992 and some were imprisoned for the crime of "gross indecency and physical abuse."

The last person jailed in Canada for homosexual offenses was Everett Klippert, a bus driver who was sentenced to life in prison in 1966. He was released in 1971 and died in 1996.

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