Gateway Gazette

It’s Time to Say Sorry to Canada’s LGBTQI2S Community

TORONTO:  Randy Boissonnault, Special Advisor to Justin Trudeau on LGBTQ2 issues, recently declared publicly on Global News that gay and lesbian Canadians purged from the military and the Public Service because of their sexuality, may have to wait another two and a half years for an apology from this government.  A government which claims to support LGBTQI2S rights but has yet to bring about justice for this major anti-gay and anti-lesbian campaign in Canadian history.
“This is completely unacceptable,” said Gary Kinsman of the We Demand an Apology Network.  “For more than 50 years (1950s to the early 1990s) thousands of LGBTQI2S peoples’ lives were destroyed in the public service and the military because of official government policy declaring them a national security risk.”  It is well documented that during this time, thousands of people lost their positions and careers; were interrogated about their sexual lives; followed; forced to inform on friends; forced into the detection research of the “Fruit Machine;” had to flee their homes and the country; with some taking their own lives, as a result of the Government’s actions.
Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale, Canada’s national LGBTQI2S Human Rights organization stated that the government has had more than enough time to respond. “They were first approached about an apology and possible compensation in April 1998, almost 20 years ago.  How much time does the Government need to do the right thing?” asked Kennedy.
The research is done, the issue well documented and all of the pertinent information is with the Government.  Egale and the We Demand an Apology Network believe that the government has had more than enough time to investigate and to respond. Many of those impacted are getting older and some have already died. Every day waiting for justice adds to the injustice already faced   We need an official apology, and a redress process now.
Egale is Canada’s national charity promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT) human rights through research, education and community engagement. The We Demand an Apology Network brings together people who were directly affected by the national security campaigns to purge those thought to be ‘homosexuals’ from the public service and the military, with supporters and researchers who know that an injustice was done.
Background
The government was first approached about an apology and possible compensation for those directly affected in April 1998 in the recommendations of the research report produced by Gary Kinsman and  Patrizia Gentile as part of their research into the purge campaigns directed against gay men and lesbians in the public service and military (Gary Kinsman and Patrizia Gentile with the assistance of Heidi McDonell and Mary Mahood-Greer, “‘In the Interests of the State’: The Anti-Gay, Anti-Lesbian National Security Campaigns in Canada,” A Preliminary Research Report, Sudbury: Laurentian University, April 1998). At the media conference releasing this report on Parliament Hill Carmen Paquette of EGALE spoke in support of these recommendations. Instead of responding positively to this request the then Liberal government instead prepared briefing notes saying that they already addressed this question in the McDonald Commission Report in 1981 into RCMP wronging doing which it did not do and the purge campaigns against gay men and lesbians continued after 1981 in the public service and the military (Kinsman and Gentile, The Canadian War on Queers, pp. 338-339, 434.).
This was followed by a large longitudinal study of over 160 Canadian LGBT soldiers and their partners by Lynne Gouliquer & Carmen Poulin examining the impact of the Canadian Military’s policies on homosexuality on military members (see http://www.p-sec.org), and the 2010 release of Gary Kinsman and Patrizia Gentile’s The Canadian War on Queers book.These authors provide an expanded documentation of the purge campaigns from the 1950s through to the 1990s and call for an official apology, a redress process, and ability for these military members to clear their records.
In June 2015 there was a joint NDP and We Demand an Apology Network media conference on Parliament Hill that called for an official apology. This was then reiterated with further documentation in June 2016 in the We Demand an Apology Network submission to the government and in the Egale Just Society Report which called for both an apology and a redress process.
Source: Egale Canada

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