Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologised for historical discrimination against the country’s LGBTI community.
“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 in the parliament.
“Our laws made private and consensual sex between same-sex partners a criminal offence, leading to the unjust arrest, conviction, and imprisonment of Canadians.
“This criminalization would have lasting impacts for things like employment, volunteering, and travel.
“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.
“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.”
Mr Trudeau has also introduced a bill to parliament that would allow courts to expunge the criminal records of people convicted of consensual homosexual activity.
From the 1950s until the late 1980s, hundreds of gay Canadian men and women were fired from their government jobs and discharged from the military.
During the Cold War, the Canadian government and military deemed gay civil servants as national security threats because they were vulnerable to blackmail.
The employees were interrogated about their sexuality and forced to inform on their friends, a process Trudeau called “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,” he said.
“Lives were destroyed, and tragically, lives were lost.
“While we may view modern Canada as a forward-thinking, progressive nation, we can’t forget our past: The state orchestrated a culture of stigma and fear around LGBTQ2 communities.
“And in doing so, destroyed people’s lives.”
A lawsuit from a discharged soldier led the country’s military to lift the ban on LGBTI people in 1992.
The Canadian government has earmarked $100 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by LGBT victims, according to the HuffPost.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 28, 2017
It takes a lot for me to be speechless. I am that little gay kid, taunted and teased, now in the House of Commons as an MP listening to my Prime Minister, our Prime Minister acknowledge all the hurt of the LGBTQ+ community and apologising. Incredible.
— Rob Oliphant (@Rob_Oliphant) November 28, 2017