PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday delivered a formal apology in the House of Commons to individuals harmed by federal legislation, policies and practices that led to the oppression of and discrimination against LGBTQ2 people in Canada.
Trudeau apologized specifically for the historical unjust treatment of LGBTQ2 federal public servants, including those in the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP, and of LGBTQ2 Indigenous Peoples.
To address the wrongs experienced by those who were unfairly criminalized by unjust laws and actions, the Government of Canada on Tuesday introduced legislation – Bill C-66, the Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act – that would put into place a process to permanently destroy the records of convictions for offences involving consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners that would be lawful today.
The federal government has also signed an agreement-in-principle to resolve the Todd Edward Ross, Martine Roy and Alida Satalic Class Action in a fair, compassionate, and respectful manner that promotes healing and reconciliation. The agreement-in-principle includes measures to support individual compensation and recognition, as well as additional initiatives to promote collective reconciliation and remembrance.
The government said these are important steps to respond to the historical and ongoing inequality faced by Canada’s LGBTQ2 communities and a vital part of its effort to create a stronger, more diverse, and more inclusive society.
Trudeau said: “It is our collective shame that Canadians who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or two-spirit were unjustly treated – fired from jobs, denied promotions, surveilled, arrested, convicted, and vindictively shamed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. People lost their livelihoods, their families, and, some, their lives. Today, we offer a long overdue apology to all those whom we, the Government of Canada, wronged. We are sorry. We hope by acknowledging our failings we can make the crucial progress LGBTQ2 people in Canada deserve. We will continue to support each other in our fight for equality because we know that Canada gets stronger every single day that we choose to embrace diversity.”
B.C. Premier John Horgan said in a statement: “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. For that reason, I welcome the prime minister’s apology.
“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.
“LGBTQ2S+ kids face higher rates of depression and suicide due to discrimination and bullying. It is our responsibility to help change these social attitudes to embrace equality and acceptance.
“We’re taking real steps to make that change. British Columbia recently adopted the new Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan to ensure the BC Public Service reflects our communities and the people we serve, including visible minorities, people with disabilities, women, Indigenous people and members of LGBTQ2S+ communities.
“I’m glad to see the commitment to equality and justice from the federal government, and recommit to the same in British Columbia.”