Getting it Right is One Thing, Taking More Time is Unacceptable
The National Film Board’s (NFB) title Open Secrets is a must watch, and will give the viewer some important background into the Canadian government’s historic persecution of it’s LGBT citizens. The Film explores the convictions and effects caused by such convictions on our LGBT Veterans (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, 2 Spirited, Asexual, and Allies (LGBTTIQQ2SA+; herein referred to as LGBT)).
The long awaited apology is very emotional to many. Follow the link here to view the film in it’s entirety on the NFB’s website. (free to view)
viewer discretion is advised, more on the pending apology below (The Waiting Game)
“This provocative documentary uncovers a lost chapter in Canadian military history: how the Armed Forces dealt with homosexual behaviour among soldiers, during and after World War II. More than 60 years later, a group of five veterans, barely adults when they enlisted, break the silence to talk about how homosexual behaviour “was even more unmentionable than cancer.” Yet amidst the brutality of war, instances of sexual awakening among soldiers and officers were occurring. Initially, the Army overlooked it, but as the war advanced, they began to crack down: military tribunals, threats of imprisonment, discharge and public exposure. After the war, officers accused of homosexuality were discharged. Back home in Canada, reputations and careers were ruined. For the young men who had served their country with valour, this final chapter was often too much to bear”. Based on the book Courting Homosexuals in the Military by Paul Jackson.
The Waiting Game
For many LGBT people fired from government jobs or the military, waiting for a long overdue apology can’t come soon enough. In April of 2016 it was widely reported that Prime Minister Trudeau would apologize to the LGBT community on behalf of all Canadians who were imprisoned, fired from their jobs or were persecuted in the past because of their sexuality.
This apology was expected to take place in the fall of 2016, but to this date no apology has taken place. We reached out to our local MP, Dr. Hedy Fry on November 10 th of this year and to date have not heard back.
In November 2016 Trudeau appointed Randy Boissonnault as a special adviser on LGBT issues. Boissonnault’s mission is to look at a possible apology and pardons for those convicted under past laws but does not go as far as to cover all those outside of government or the military who faced the same level persecution and oppression.
The Pope said in June, Christians owe an apology to gay people who have been discriminated against. “The church must ask for forgiveness”.
As reported in the Globe and Mail the Liberals have decided to act on most or all of the recommendations of the Just Society, submitted by Egale in June. The recommendations include:
- Apologizing to people who were convicted of gross indecency for committing homosexual acts in the years before 1969, when same-sex acts between consensual adults were decriminalized. Those convictions will be pardoned, expunged or in some other fashion stricken from the records of those convicted;
- Apologizing to those who were dismissed from the public service, discharged from the military or otherwise discriminated against in government work because they were homosexual. It was only in the 1990s that the federal government ceased efforts to identify and expel homosexuals in the military;
- Eliminating the difference in the age of consent for sexual acts. The current age of consent is 16, but it is 18 for anal intercourse, which discriminates against and stigmatizes young homosexuals.
- Examining whether and how to compensate those who suffered past discrimination because of who they were or whom they loved. This could involve individual compensation and/or funding for programs or services;
- Requiring all police officers or others who work in the justice system to receive human-rights training, with an emphasis on the historic wrong of treating members of sexual minorities as criminals and on the current bias that all too often still exists;
- Providing similar training to Customs officials, who still are more likely to ban homosexual materials from crossing the border, while permitting their heterosexual equivalents;
- Implementing procedures to protect the dignity of transgender or intersex persons in prisons or jails;
- Eliminating laws, such as keeping a bawdy house, that can be used to criminally charge those who visit a bathhouse or who practice group sex.