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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to issue sweeping apology for historic gay convictions

Joseph McCormick August 11, 2016
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to issue a far-reaching apology to those convicted of historic gay sex offences.

Mr Trudeau, as soon as this autumn, will issue the apology on behalf of all Canadians, reports the Globe and Mail.

The director of Egale, Helen Kenney, celebrated the upcoming apology.

She said: “This is a long-awaited moment and a very emotional moment, to be honest.

“For the government to recognise the damage that it caused, the harm that it caused, to thousands and thousands of Canadians is a historic moment for our communities.”

The Globe and Mail today revealed the reforms from sources around and within the government.

A report ‘The Just Society’, submitted to government by Egale by June, will see most of its recommendations taken on board in the reforms.

The apology and the reforms will represent one of the largest single steps forward for gay rights in Canadian history.

According to the Globe and Mail, the recommendations were:

  1. Apologizing to people who were convicted of gross indecency for committing homosexual acts in the years before 1969, when same-sex acts between consensual adults were decriminalized. Those convictions will be pardoned, expunged or in some other fashion stricken from the records of those convicted;
  2. Apologizing to those who were dismissed from the public service, discharged from the military or otherwise discriminated against in government work because they were homosexual. It was only in the 1990s that the federal government ceased efforts to identify and expel homosexuals in the military;
  3. Eliminating the difference in the age of consent for sexual acts. The current age of consent is 16, but it is 18 for anal intercourse, which discriminates against and stigmatizes young homosexuals.
  4. Examining whether and how to compensate those who suffered past discrimination because of who they were or whom they loved. This could involve individual compensation and/or funding for programs or services;
  5. Requiring all police officers or others who work in the justice system to receive human-rights training, with an emphasis on the historic wrong of treating members of sexual minorities as criminals and on the current bias that all too often still exists;
  6. Providing similar training to Customs officials, who still are more likely to ban homosexual materials from crossing the border, while permitting their heterosexual equivalents;
  7. Implementing procedures to protect the dignity of transgender or intersex persons in prisons or jails;
  8. Eliminating laws, such as keeping a bawdy house, that can be used to criminally charge those who visit a bathhouse or who practise group sex.
  9. Some actions can be taken immediately; others will take longer, though the government is committed to fully acting on the Just Society recommendations before the next election.

A senior official will be appointed by the government to work with Egale.

A statement from Mr Trudeu’s press secretary reads: “We have committed to working with Egale and other groups on an ongoing basis to bring an end to discrimination and further guarantee equality for all citizens. We are currently carefully reviewing the recommendations in their report, and will have more to say in the near future.”

The Government did not go further to confirm or deny that the recommendations will be honoured.

Earlier this year Mr Trudeau made history by becoming the first sitting Canadian Prime Minister to march in a Pride parade.

n November, the government promised to take in a substantial amount of gay refugees from war-torn Syria.

Trudeau

Amid security concerns, the country does not plan to accept unaccompanied males – but it will make an exception for gay people, who face persecution in Syria from both the government and the terrorist group known as Islamic State.

The pledge to accept refugees was a cornerstone of the commitments by new PM Trudeau.

The keen LGBT ally also demonstrated his commitment to equality by naming a diverse, gender-balanced cabinet.

Trudeau earlier this year announced that he intends to posthumously pardon a man who was jailed simply for being gay in the 1960s.

Related topics: Americas, Canada, Canada, Justin Trudeau

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