Communities

The World Should Pay Attention To How Canada Is Apologizing To Its LGBTQ People

by Robbie Couch

November 20, 2017

Canadians may say “I’m sorry” a lot — but this apology is truly justified. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that the Canadian government will formally apologize to its LGBTQ citizens for the “persecution and injustices” they’ve endured. The symbolic move will help the country “advance together on the path to equality and inclusion.”

The prime minister’s apology — expected to be delivered on Nov. 28 in the House of Commons — will be “the most comprehensive ever offered by any national government for past persecution of sexual minorities,” according to The Globe and Mail.

A primary intent of the apology is to help heal the wounds carried by LGBTQ people directly targeted by the Canadian government in decades past. From 1950 to 1992, thousands of queer Canadians lost their government jobs or were discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Although the details have yet to be finalized, part of the apology will include financial compensation for those who were fired or pressured into quitting because they were LGBTQ.

"It's amazing," Martine Roy, who lost her military job over three decades ago because she’s a lesbian, told The Canadian Press. "Even though, if you fight all your life for that, it's always hard to believe it will happen."

Canada — consistently ranked one of the world’s most LGBTQ-friendly countries — has passed anti-discrimination laws aimed at protecting queer people in recent years. In July, the country took steps to ban discrimination and hate speech targeting transgender and non-binary Canadians. Marriage equality has been the law of the land there since 2005.

Justin Trudeau attends LGBTQ Pride in Toronto in 2017. Photo by Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images.

The country’s formal apology lays in stark contrast to the direction of LGBTQ rights in the U.S., which has taken a hit under President Donald Trump. This past summer, Trump moved to ban transgender service members from the military (a decision that’s since been blocked by a federal judge). The U.S. Justice Department, overseen by notably anti-LGBTQ Attorney General Jeff Sessions, intervened in an employment lawsuit in July to argue that lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers shouldn’t be protected from discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

In Canada, however, time and social progress are moving in-sync, and LGBTQ Canadians are more than happy to put the dark days of discrimination behind them.

"It means a lot,” a teary-eyed Roy told The Canadian Press of her country’s formal apology. "It means even more coming from [Trudeau] because I know it's going to come from his heart."

Share image by Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images, Justin Trudeau/Twitter.

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The World Should Pay Attention To How Canada Is Apologizing To Its LGBTQ People