Trudeau apologizes for decades of LGBTQ discrimination by federal agencies

‘I am sorry. We are sorry,’ Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is apologizing on behalf of the federal government for perpetrating decades of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.

Dozens of people — including two of Trudeau’s own kids, Xavier and Ella-Grace — were crammed into the various House of Commons galleries, many of them sporting rainbow ribbons, to witness the historic occasion, which the prime minister says he hopes will finally allow the healing process to begin for those affected.

“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 says in prepared remarks.

“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.”

Earlier Tuesday, the government introduced legislation which, if passed, will allow the expungement of criminal records belonging to people convicted of consensual sexual activity with same-sex partners.

It has also earmarked more than $100 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.”

READ MORE: PM promises apology to LGBTQ2 community

The number one job of any government is to keep its citizens safe. And on this, we have failed LGBTQ2 people, time and time again,” Trudeau says in his remarks, using an acronym that includes reference to Indigenous people known as “two-spirit.”

“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. We are sorry.”

The government is also putting $250,000 toward community projects to combat homophobia and provide support for people in crisis, and plans a commemoration in 2019 to mark the 50th anniversary of the federal decriminalization of homosexual acts.

The discriminatory policies that often ruined careers and lives had their roots in federal efforts that began as early as the 1940s to delve into the personal lives of people who were considered security risks as a result of what was considered “character weakness.”

“This thinking was prejudiced and flawed,” Trudeau says. “Sadly, what resulted was nothing short of a witch hunt.

“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.”

Premier John Horgan ‘welcomes’ federal apology

Since Trudeau’s speech in the House of Commons, Premier John Horgan has issued a statement welcoming the apology.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

North Cowichan councillor’s proposal for regional control of forests gets nod at UBCM

Recommendation from North Cowichan councillor Rob Douglas now goes to province

Drivesmart column: Driving with obstructed vision

Fully 80 per cent of the information that we need to drive safely comes through our eyes.

Marked improvement for women’s rugby squad

Gudmundseth scores four as Cowichan edged by Westshore

Robert Barron column: Cell phone rules in cars are clear as mud

She was not actively using her cell at the time

Andrea Rondeau column: Flood of letters to the editor

Some newspapers struggle to get people to send in letters to the editor.

VIDEO: Langley woman’s security camera records its own theft

Langley family discovers early morning grab was recorded

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Map on Elections Canada website sends Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters to landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

BC Children’s Hospital launches 2 new virtual care sites bringing total to 19 across province

Provincial initiative allows pediatric patients to see health specialists through video

‘Wham-bam out the door’: Surrey man’s front yard left ruined by scamming landscaper

Resident warns neighbours to be careful of door-to-door salesmen

Most Read