Canada has unveiled a new coin to mark 50 years since the decriminalisation of gay sex.
The $1 coin depicts two overlapping faces with the word “equality” written in both English and French and also features an engraving of the years 1969 and 2019.
It was unveiled at a special event in Toronto and will go into circulation today.
Randy Boissonnault, special advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBT+ issues, said it was “an important day” for LGBT+ people in Canada.
“It is an opportunity to reflect on a landmark event in our country’s history, and a reminder of the progress still to be made as we work toward inclusion and equality for all LGBTQ2 Canadians,” he said.
Equality coin marks ‘a process of legal reforms’
Meanwhile, Marie Lemay, president of the Royal Canadian Mint, said: “The Mint plays a significant role in celebrating Canada’s culture, history and values through coins.
“Marking 50 years since a landmark decision that began a process of legal reforms to recognize the rights of LGBTQ2 Canadians is a powerful way to recognize Canada’s profound belief in equality and inclusion.
“The Mint constantly strives to live these values, and our employees are proud to share the message of equality through this new commemorative circulation coin.”
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“It is an opportunity to reflect on a landmark event in our country’s history, and a reminder of the progress still to be made as we work toward inclusion and equality for all LGBTQ2 Canadians.”
– Randy Boissonault, special advisor to the prime minister on LGBT+ issues
The coin was designed by Vancouver-based artist Joe Average. Average was diagnosed with HIV in 1984 which led to him dedicating his life to art. The image of the two intertwined faces is intended to reflect gender fluidity and the spectrum of genders.
The equality coin was announced last December
Details of the equality coin were announced last December, with CBC reporting that the design had been approved by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trudeau’s father, former Canadian leader Pierre Trudeau, proposed changes to the Criminal Code in 1967 that would decriminalise gay sex.
“I think the view we take here is that there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation. I think that what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code. When it becomes public this is a different matter, or when it relates to minors this is a different matter,” he said at the time.
However, the equality coin has been criticised by some historians and LGBT+ activists who say it commemorates a “myth.”
Activists with the Anti-69 group say that the $1 coin—which will depict two overlapping human faces along with the dates 1969 and 2019 and the word “equality”—ignores harsh realities for LGBT+ people in the years afterwards, according to CBC.
Historian Tom Hooper—who researches LGBT+ history—said that the coin commemorates a “myth” as changes to the Criminal Code in 1969 only decriminalised gay sex between men aged 21 and over in a private setting.