By: Sara Florez
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to the Canadian LGBTQ2 community today for decades of discrimination that “legitimized hatred and violence and brought shame to those targeted.”
In a much-anticipated statement to the House of Commons, Trudeau said the state destroyed people’s lives through an orchestrated culture of stigma and fear perpetuated by their own government.
“It is our collective shame that you were so mistreated and it is our collective shame that this apology took so long,” Trudeau said. “Many who suffered are no longer alive to hear these words, and for that, we are truly sorry.”
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 28, 2017
From the 1950s to the 1990s, governments of the day discriminated against thousands of workers in the Canadian military and public service.
Federal workers were fired because it was felt that their sexuality posed a “national security” threat. Until 1969, it was illegal to have consensual sex between same sex partners, which led to arrests, convictions and criminal records.
“You were not bad soldiers, sailors, airmen and women. You were not predators and you were not criminals. You were professionals. You were patriots. and above all, you are innocent. For all your suffering, you deserve justice and you deserve peace.”
The government has also set aside over $100 million to Canadians whose careers were forced to end or put on hold due to their sexuality.
Humber student Beau Deguire, who works at the LGBTQ2 Resource Centre, is relieved to have the prime minister addressing an issue that is so dear to him.
“We finally have someone who’s addressing these issues by talking, apologizing and doing something about it today,” Deguire said. “Personally, I’m more confident in who I am and I don’t have to fear as much as I would’ve had to back then.”
Humber graduate and LGBTQ2 activist, Christopher Karas was in attendance when Trudeau made his apology.
“People were crying because this was an intimate moment for a lot of folks who were in the military and the public service who were apologized to,” Karas said.
But he added that he was mostly disappointed because in his opinion Trudeau didn’t go far enough. Karas said he thinks Trudeau should’ve mentioned that Canada is still not a welcoming country for LGBTQ2 people. Karas also said Trudeau should’ve mentioned police brutality, slavery and the colonization of the First Nations people.
With files from Daniel Caudle and Omar Jaber.
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