Gay Friendly Canada
IGLTA Conference 2018
Canada remains one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to LGBTQ2+ rights and freedoms. Although not perfect and there is still work to be done, great progress has been made over the past sixty years or so.
Politicians such as then Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau worked to pass amendments into the Criminal Code, decriminalizing homosexuality in Canada in 1969, Quebec included sexual orientation in its Human Rights Code in 1977, MP Svend Robinson went public about being gay in 1988, the federal court lifted the country's ban on homosexuals in the military in 1992, Bill C-33 added sexual orientation to the Canadian Human Rights Act in 1996, the Ontario Court of Appeal legally allowed same-sex marriages in 2003, soon followed by British Columbia in 2003, and across Canada in 2005, to name just a few of many milestones along the way.
However, this was not always the case, as the nation was reminded in late November, 2017, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an historic apology to LGBTQ2+ Canadians. The reason for this apology was an effort to formally acknowledge and apologize for the historic wrongs that were perpetrated against LGBTQ2+ Canadians for decades, including imprisonment, public shaming, job and career loss, diagnoses of mental illness, and even electroshock therapy.
Following are a few excerpts from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s speech before Parliament:
“Now imagine, if you will, being told that the very country you would willingly lay down your life to defend doesn't want you. Doesn't accept you. Sees you as defective. Sees you as a threat to our national security.
Not because you can't do the job, or because you lack patriotism or courage - no, because of who you are as a person, and because of who your sexual partners are. Now imagine, Mr. Speaker, being subjected to laws, policies, and hiring practices that label you as different - as less than. Imagine having to fight for the basic rights that your peers enjoy, over and over again.
And imagine being criminalized for being who you are. This is the truth for many of the Canadians present in the gallery today, and those listening across the country.
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.
These aren't distant practices of governments long forgotten. This happened systematically, in Canada, with a timeline more recent than any of us would like to admit.
Mr. Speaker, today we acknowledge an often-overlooked part of Canada's history. Today, we finally talk about Canada's role in the systemic oppression, criminalization, and violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit communities.
And it is my hope that in talking about these injustices, vowing to never repeat them, and acting to right these wrongs, we can begin to heal.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s apology was well-received by many LGBTQ2+ Canadians. Our leaders, allies, and all of us must remain vigilante, to ensure that these hard won rights and freedoms are not attacked, eroded or rescinded by anyone in future.
As we move through 2018, Canada remains a beacon of hope for many LGBTQ2+ people around the world, whom are still being persecuted in their home countries, simply for being who they are. Keep up the good work Canada!