Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered an apology to the LGBT community on Tuesday, on behalf of the Canadian government, for decades of “state-sponsored, systematic oppression and rejection.” Speaking in the House of Commons, he expressed shame, sorrow, and regret to to the military and civil servants, as well as those criminalized, who endured discrimination and injustice based on their sexual orientation.
“To all the LGBTQ2 people across this country who we have harmed in countless ways, we are sorry,” Trudeau said. “You are professionals. You are patriots. And above all, you are innocent. And for all your suffering, you deserve justice, and you deserve peace. We betrayed you, and we are so sorry.”
Trudeau fought back tears, as he repeatedly said that both the government and he are collectively sorry for the mistreatment. “It is our collective shame that you were so mistreated. And it is our collective shame that this apology took so long – many who suffered are no longer alive to hear these words. And for that, we are truly sorry.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a formal apology to LGBTQ2 Canadians in the House of Commons. https://t.co/5toIloNCuU
— CanadianPM (@CanadianPM) November 28, 2017
Earlier on 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. “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.
The apology comes with $145 million in compensation; $110 million is earmarked for LGBT civil servants and members of the military whose careers were sidelined or ended because of their sexuality. The money is part of a class-action settlement with employees who were investigated, sanctioned and sometimes fired as part of the “gay purge.”
An additional $15 million will go toward historical reconciliation, education and memorialization efforts. Plans include community projects to combat homophobia and provide support for people in crisis, and a commemoration in 2019 to mark the 50th anniversary of the federal decriminalization of homosexual acts.
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