Friday, August 12, 2016

Via John Ibbitson at The Globe and Mail: Justin Trudeau to apologize for historic persecution of gay Canadians


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in Aylmer, Que., on July 20. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

As early as this autumn, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will apologize on behalf of all Canadians to those who were imprisoned, fired from their jobs or otherwise persecuted in the past because of their sexuality.

That apology is a key element in a broad range of reforms that will collectively represent one of the greatest advances for sexual minorities in Canada’s history.

John Ibbitson explains The Globe's focus on Everett Klippert's pardon (The Globe and Mail)
“This is a long-awaited moment and a very emotional moment, to be honest,” said Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale, a national organization that advocates for the rights of sexual minorities. 

“For the government to recognize the damage that it caused, the harm that it caused, to thousands and thousands of Canadians is a historic moment for our communities.”

The Globe and Mail has learned of the planned reforms from numerous sources within and outside the government.

In essence, the Liberals have decided to act on most or all of the recommendations of The Just Society, a report submitted to the government in June by Egale. The title refers to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s program for rights protection and social reform.

Those recommendations include:
  • Apologizing to people who were convicted of gross indecency for committing homosexual acts in the years before 1969, when same-sex acts between consensual adults were decriminalized. Those convictions will be pardoned, expunged or in some other fashion stricken from the records of those convicted;
  • Apologizing to those who were dismissed from the public service, discharged from the military or otherwise discriminated against in government work because they were homosexual. It was only in the 1990s that the federal government ceased efforts to identify and expel homosexuals in the military;
  • Eliminating the difference in the age of consent for sexual acts. The current age of consent is 16, but it is 18 for anal intercourse, which discriminates against and stigmatizes young homosexuals.
  • Examining whether and how to compensate those who suffered past discrimination because of who they were or whom they loved. This could involve individual compensation and/or funding for programs or services;
  • Requiring all police officers or others who work in the justice system to receive human-rights training, with an emphasis on the historic wrong of treating members of sexual minorities as criminals and on the current bias that all too often still exists;
  • Providing similar training to Customs officials, who still are more likely to ban homosexual materials from crossing the border, while permitting their heterosexual equivalents;
  • Implementing procedures to protect the dignity of transgender or intersex persons in prisons or jails;
  • Eliminating laws, such as keeping a bawdy house, that can be used to criminally charge those who visit a bathhouse or who practise group sex.
 
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