Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the Caring and Sharing Children’s Christmas Gala in Toronto, Monday November 27, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

$100M for ‘gay purge’ victims as Trudeau apologizes for discrimination

Prime Minister Trudeau apologizes for LGBTQ discrimination

The Trudeau government has earmarked more than $100 million to compensate members of the military and other federal agencies whose careers were sidelined or ended due to their sexual orientation, The Canadian Press has learned.

The money will be paid out as part of a class-action lawsuit settlement to employees who were investigated, sanctioned and sometimes fired as part of the so-called “gay purge.”

An agreement in principle in the court action emerged Friday, just days before the government delivers a sweeping apology for discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.

RELATED: LGBTQ advocates want military, RCMP to take part in apology

Details of the agreement must still be worked out by the parties and approved by the Federal Court, but it’s expected that several thousand people will be eligible for the financial compensation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will deliver the apology — which is expected to surpass what other countries have done to make amends to LGBTQ people — in the House of Commons following question period Tuesday.

A clear and unequivocal expression of regret to all affected is necessary to acknowledge the mistakes so “they will never happen again,” said Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, a special adviser to the prime minister on sexual orientation and gender issues.

Among apology-related initiatives, the government is putting $250,000 toward community projects to combat homophobia and provide support for people in crisis.

In addition, it plans a commemoration in 2019 of the 50th anniversary of the federal decriminalization of homosexual acts.

The government also plans to table legislation Tuesday to expunge the criminal records of people convicted of consensual sexual activity with same-sex partners, whether in civilian or military courts.

Those eligible will be required to apply for expungement; requests may be submitted on behalf of deceased people who were convicted.

The apology and associated efforts to recognize past wrongs will be genuinely historic, said Gary Kinsman, a sociology professor at Laurentian University and a leading scholar on the injustices for many years.

“It’s also been an incredibly long time coming,” said Kinsman, a spokesman for the We Demand an Apology Network, which includes people directly affected by the purge campaign as well as supporters and researchers.

“I’m very saddened by the fact that many of the people who really needed to be apologized to have passed away,” Kinsman said in an interview. “It should have happened decades ago, in my view.”

The discriminatory policies that often ruined careers and lives had their roots in federal efforts that began as early as the 1940s to delve into the personal lives of people who were considered security risks.

There is no evidence of a gay or lesbian employee ever giving information to Soviet agents or another foreign power, Kinsman said. On the contrary, victims of the purge say the only ones who tried to blackmail them were the RCMP or military security, trying to elicit information about friends and acquaintances in the public service.

“Really what it was about was pushing lesbians and gay men outside the fabric of the nation, defining our sexualities as being somehow a security risk,” Kinsman said. “And on the other side, defining heterosexuality as the national safe and secure sexuality.”

The apology is expected to include a federal commitment to reveal more of the hidden historical record of the government’s discriminatory policies and practices.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Williams Lake Courthouse (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Charges laid following high-speed chase, arrest near Williams Lake Sunday

Tyrell Giroux appeared in Williams Lake Provincial Court on Monday, Oct. 26

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

Youth across B.C. took part in the Student Vote. In Cariboo Chilcotin BC Green Party David Laing got the most votes and in Cariboo North BC NDP Party Scott Elliott emerged the winner.  (Student Vote photo)
BC Student Vote 2020: Green Party wins Cariboo Chilcotin, NDP wins Cariboo North

Student vote for Cariboo ridings has different outcomes than general voting

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Tyrell Giroux was arrested by Williams Lake RCMP on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Facebook video screenshot)
Tsilhqot’in leaders call for suspension of officers seen in controversial Williams Lake arrest

Disturbing video demands an immediate, independent investigation, says TNG

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

Most Read