Trudeau’s apology to the LGBTQ+ community, one year later
Last year, on Nov. 28, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rose in the House of Commons to apologize for the terrible wrongs committed towards gays and lesbians in the Canadian Armed Forces and civil service.
This historic occasion, long overdue, had a tremendous impact on those who served. For more than 30 years, and it lasted until the 1990s, thousands lost their jobs and many faced prosecution because of their sexual orientation. The policy affected Canadians in the military, the public service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The gallery was filled with victims and their supporters.
Mr. Trudeau apologized for Canada’s role in the systematic oppression, criminalization, and violence against members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“It is with shame and sorrow and deep regret for the things we have done that I stand here today and say: We were wrong,” he said. He went on to say, “It is my hope that in talking about these injustices, vowing never to repeat them, and acting to right these wrongs, we can begin to heal.”
The government also promised to pay up to $110 million to compensate victims of the so-called “gay purge” — decades of government-authorized discrimination against gay Canadians. Legislation was introduced to expunge “unjust convictions” from the judicial records of people charged under laws that criminalize homosexuality. There have been reports from certain people that this is just not enough, that it was a ploy by Trudeau to get the votes. The apology was sincere and complete, making this the single most important decision since LGBTQ rights became entrenched in our laws.
Much has happened since my time of revealing my sexual orientation 44 years ago. Equality is not accomplished in a short period of time, but with much patience, education and raising awareness, we will experience more equality, hopefully in conjunction with lessening discrimination. A tall order, to be sure. There are many obstacles that leave us with the responsibility to be more determined, to be more vocal, to increase our intent to fight for equality as all others, and to approach the issues with clarity, patience and shift the political landscape, regardless of the apology.
The present government’s support for equal rights does not necessarily indicate that future governments will be on side. We are experiencing this with Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford, a Progressive Conservative, who as a Trump wannabe has reversed the sex education policy in the schools, a definite step back. He has the reputation for disdain towards the LGBTQ+ community, and he is not alone.
More needs to be done and continue the efforts well into the next century.
Meanwhile we celebrate the gains, appreciate the apology from Justin Trudeau, detailed and meaningful. The fact the issues remain a challenge in the months and years ahead, we must embrace our allies, educate those who reject us because of discrimination within some religious right-wing beliefs, a challenging arduous project.
The apology from the Liberal government was also meant as a tool to continue efforts towards reconciliation between all Canadians, a positive step to unify. Apologies must be followed by positive action, or be viewed as hollow statements.
We learn of this daily as the pope, political leaders, sports heroes, entertainers or any other person attempts to rectify a statement that clearly indicates a rejection if not followed by a positive action so that true healing has a chance.
This first-year anniversary must be recognized as a positive and celebrations are in order. We realize the opposition forces that deny the normalcy of one’s sexual orientation, true gender identity or expression.
Many are vocal in their discriminatory thoughts and expressions. Discrimination is the worst offense of our time.
Thanks to Prime Minister Trudeau, a clearer path has been paved.
Millions of others are likewise thanked for their persistence to engage a more positive society.