Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally apologized today (28 November) for the ‘unjust treatment’ of LGBTQ2 Canadians.
He delivered his speech in the House of Commons.
These agonizing and humiliating tests happened between the 1950s and 1992, a timeline, Trudeau acknowledges in the speech, ‘more recent than any of us would like to admit’.
‘Now imagine, if you will,’ Trudeau begins. ‘Being told that the very country you would willingly lay down your life to defend, doesn’t want you, doesn’t accept you, sees you as defective, sees you as a threat to our national security.
‘Not because you can’t do the job, or because you lack patriotism or courage — no, because of who you are as a person, and because of who your sexual partners are.
‘Imagine having to fight for the basic rights that your peers enjoy, over and over again. And imagine being criminalized for being who you are. This is the truth for many of the Canadians present in the gallery today, and those listening across the country.’
Watch the whole speech.
The apology then begins: ‘For state sponsored systemic oppression and rejection, we are sorry. For suppressing two-spirit indigenous values and beliefs, we are sorry. For abusing the power of the law and making criminals of citizens, we are sorry.’
Two-spirit is a term that refers to indigenous North Americans who fulfill a third gender.
Trudeau continues in both English and French, apologizing for many of the Canadian government’s grievances.
‘For the government’s censure and its repeated attempts to stop you from building your communities. For denying your equality and forcing you to fight for that equality every day, often paying a high price to do so. For forcing you to live in the margins, for making you invisible and for humiliating you, we are deeply sorry. We were wrong.’
Read the full speech here.
‘We will never let this happen again’
Trudeau further promised to keep fighting and making amends.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 28, 2017
Other officials also lent their voices to apologize.
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Michael Wernick, tweeted the following:
On behalf of the Public Service of Canada, I apologize to all LGBTQ2 public servants who suffered because of past injustice. Join me in ensuring we continue to become more inclusive. Read my message here: https://t.co/Z76ErJuk2y
— Michael Wernick (@Clerk_GC) November 28, 2017
The Chief of the Defence Staff also apologized.
I am deeply sorry to all of you who were ever investigated, charged or released from the military because of your sexual orientation. You showed us honour and dedication and we showed you the door #LGBTQ2 https://t.co/GcJ5YRtNv8 pic.twitter.com/8DdfBCdMWA
— CDS Canada CEMD (@CDS_Canada_CEMD) November 28, 2017
Rob Oliphant, an openly out MP, said the speech left him speechless.
It takes a lot for me to be speechless. I am that little gay kid, taunted and teased, now in the House of Commons as an MP listening to my Prime Minister, our Prime Minister acknowledge all the hurt of the LGBTQ+ community and apologising. Incredible.
— Rob Oliphant (@Rob_Oliphant) November 28, 2017
Trudeau’s track record
The current Canadiam PM has a good history with LGBTQ rights.
He marched in several Pride parades earlier this year, including Toronto, Halifax, and Montreal.
He also expunged criminal convictions for LGBTQ Canadians.
Many are regarding this speech and apology as one of the most sweeping acknowledgements for LGBTQ people by a government.