The assault on a gay night club in Orlando has cast a shadow over two reports that call for an apology from Justin Trudeau’s government and restitution for homosexuals who were prosecuted and persecuted under Canadian policies in the past, and who still suffer discrimination today.
One report, prepared by Egale, a national organization that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Canadians, asks the Prime Minister to acknowledge in principle the need for an apology and redress for homosexuals who were criminally targeted because of their sexuality. Germany and Australia (through its state governments), are already at work on some combination of pardons, apology and redress.
Egale said on Sunday that it remains committed to releasing the report after the weekend’s tragedy. It will be delivered to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on Monday and through her to the Prime Minister’s Office. An advance copy was provided to The Globe and Mail.
The report proposes that retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci be asked to lead a one-year study on what shape an apology, restitution and action to prevent future discrimination against sexual minorities should take.
The report advocates “a process of ‘truth and rehabilitation,’ whereby the federal government will acknowledge the wrongs done to our community and commit to a process to make it right.”
Mr. Trudeau has made advancing the rights of sexual minorities a priority for his government. Legislation will be coming to protect the rights of transgender Canadians, and Mr. Trudeau has indicated he is willing in principle to pardon Everett Klippert, who was designated a dangerous sexual offender in the 1960s simply because he was gay and to pardon other men who were criminally charged for committing homosexual acts.
However, Douglas Elliott, a lawyer and gay-rights advocate who co-authored the report, said an apology was warranted, not a pardon.
“We do not want the Queen’s forgiveness,” he said during an e-mail exchange. “Her Majesty should be asking for our forgiveness.”