Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau apologises to LGBTQ community for govt actions during Cold War

Trudeau has apologised to members of the LGBTQ community for actions taken by the government against thousands of workers in public service during the Cold War

AP November 29, 2017 07:37:56 IST
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau apologises to LGBTQ community for govt actions during Cold War

Toronto: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has apologised to members of the LGBTQ community for actions taken by the government against thousands of workers in the military and public service during the Cold War.

Trudeau said in a speech to Parliament on Tuesday that from the 1950s to the early 1990s, the federal government employed a campaign of oppression against members and suspected members of the LGBTQ communities.

The thinking of the day, he said, was that all non-heterosexual Canadians would automatically be at an increased risk of blackmail by Canada's adversaries.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau apologises to LGBTQ community for govt actions during Cold War

File image of Canada prime minister Justin Trudeau. Reuters

"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 said.

"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."

Trudeau said the public service, the military, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police spied on their own people, inside and outside of the workplaces.

He said Canadians were monitored for anything that could be construed as homosexual behaviour, with community groups, bars, parks, and even people's homes constantly under watch.

He said when the government felt that enough evidence had accumulated, some suspects were taken to secret locations in the dark of night to be interrogated.

He said those who admitted they were gay were fired, discharged, or intimidated into resignation. The prime minister called it a witch hunt.

"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 apologise. I am sorry. We are sorry," Trudeau said to a standing ovation.

"For state-sponsored, systemic oppression and rejection, we are sorry."

The government also introduced legislation that would allow people to apply to have their criminal convictions for consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners erased from public record.

It has also earmarked more than $100 million Canadian (US $78 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."

"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," Trudeau said.

Updated Date:

also read

How the idea of wearing a mask has gone through phases of acceptance and resistance since the Spanish Flu
World

How the idea of wearing a mask has gone through phases of acceptance and resistance since the Spanish Flu

The World Health Organisation in no uncertain terms makes it clear that masks should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives.

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Argentina bounce back to beat South Africa, join Fiji, Britain and New Zealand in rugby sevens semis
Sports

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Argentina bounce back to beat South Africa, join Fiji, Britain and New Zealand in rugby sevens semis

The Fijians will next play Argentina, which rebounded to beat South Africa 19-14, and Britain will have to contend with top-ranked New Zealand.

A round-up of the world's worst climate change events in 2021
World

A round-up of the world's worst climate change events in 2021

An unprecedented downpour dumped a year's worth of rain in just three days on the central city of Zhengzhou, China.