Apology highlights government’s impacts on families, employment opportunities
Graham Robertson, Editor
On Tuesday, Nov. 28, leaders from Canada’s major political parties delivered an apology to the LGBTQ+ community in the House of Commons.
The apology focused on a “purge” that took place from the 1950s to the 1990s, during which time the government scrutinized and punished Canadians who were openly, or suspected of being queer.
According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “the state orchestrated a culture of stigma and fear around LGBTQ2 families… destroying their lives.”
The policies and practices of the time led to termination of employment, criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and more, affecting queer individuals and their families. As a result of these state practices, consensual, private sexual relations between same-sex individuals were made punishable by law, leading to difficulties in accessing health care, social benefits, and hindering future employment opportunities.
Trudeau also highlighted the use of the “fruit machine,” a device that was developed to identify gay men, which forced these men to watch pornography and then measured pupil size, perspiration, and pulse.
Queer members of the military were invited to the apology, many of whom faced termination of employment, imprisonment, and psychological testing due to their sexual orientation.
While the apology served to address the past actions of our government, Trudeau highlighted issues still affecting the queer community today, such as high rates of homelessness, mental health issues, and suicide, specifically for queer youth.
Watch the full apology below.
Featured image: CC, Tony Webster.