The prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has announced that he will take an important step toward addressing past injustices committed against members of the LGBTQ community.
Trudeau will offer what is being called an “historic apology” on Nov. 28 to Canadians who were either criminally prosecuted or dismissed from the military or public service for being gay, The Globe and Mail reported.
The newspaper called the apology the “most comprehensive ever offered by any national government for past persecution of sexual minorities.”
It comes in response to a class–action lawsuit by Canadians who lost their jobs for being gay. It also is the result of investigative reports about the issue published by The Globe over the past two years.
The newspaper notes:
In June 2016, Egale, a national organization that advocates for sexual minorities, published a report listing a series of actions the government could take to redress past and current injustices. A year ago, the Liberal government committed to implementing that report’s recommendations. The formal, public apology by the Prime Minister on behalf of all Canadians is the culmination of that commitment.
The apology will take place in the House of Commons, and the government is footing the bill for all invitees to attend. Trudeau also is expected to issue pardons for people unjustly convicted.
According to The Globe, “homosexual acts were a crime in Canada” until 1969, and members of the LGBTQ community who were enlisted in the military were persecuted and expelled as an official policy until 1992.
Recently, the Canadian government has been praised for its condemnation of Chechnya’s shameful purge of gay people, and for providing a safe haven in Canada for victims formerly stuck in Russia.
In an op–ed published last September, Graeme Reid, who is the director of Human Rights Watch’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program, cited comments by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland criticizing the U.S. for abdicating its “traditional role defending the postwar liberal order.” Canada, on the other hand, is defending that order, Freeland said.
“Canada has taken significant steps domestically – apologizing for past mistreatment, committing to expunge criminal records, creating a non-binary gender option on passports and passing legislation to protect transgender people from discrimination,” Reid wrote.
“Canada’s leadership comes at a critical time, when the U.S. – which exercised significant international leadership on LGBT issues under the Obama administration – has lost much of its moral authority,” Reid added.