Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Nov. 28, 2017, will formally apologize to Canadians who were convicted of "gross indecency" and fired from civil service jobs because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Justin Trudeau to Formally Apologize for 'Gross Indecency' Convictions

BY MICHAEL K. LAVERS, WASHINGTON BLADE

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday announced his government will formally apologize to those who were convicted of "gross indecency" before the country decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations.

He wrote on his Facebook page that his government on Nov. 28 "will offer a formal apology to LGBTQ2 Canadians in the House (of Commons) -- for the persecution & injustices they have suffered, and to advance together on the path to equality & inclusion." The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported Trudeau will also formally apologize to Canadians who were fired from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the country's military and civil service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Canada decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations in 1969.

MP Randy Boissonnault -- who is Trudeau's advisor on LGBT and intersex issues -- in June confirmed to the Washington Blade during an interview at the WorldPride International Human Rights Conference in Madrid that the men who were convicted under the law would have their convictions expunged. Boissonnault did not provide a specific timeline as to when the Canadian government was planning to formally apologize to them.

"It will be an historic day for LGBTQ2 communities and for Canada," said Boissonnault on his Twitter page after Trudeau made his announcement. "Diversity makes us stronger."

Egale Canada, a Canadian LGBT and intersex advocacy group, on Sunday said the "long awaited apology" is "one step closer to starting the process of healing."

Canada is the latest country to formally apologize to men who were convicted under laws that criminalized homosexuality.

A law named after Alan Turing -- a gay British mathematician who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 for having a relationship with another man -- that pardoned gay and bisexual men in England and Wales who were charged under a law that criminalized consensual same-sex sexual acts took effect in January. The governments of Germany, Scotland and New Zealand have also taken similar actions.

Then-Secretary of State John Kerry in January formally apologized to State Department personnel who were fired for "alleged homosexuality" during the so-called "lavender scare" of the 1950s and 1960s. U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced a bill that would allow those who were fired during the "lavender scare" to have their employment records expunged.

Homosexuality remain criminalized in more than 70 countries around the world. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Mauritania are among the handful of nations in which those who are convicted of engaging in consensual same-sex sexual acts face the death penalty.

This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National Gay Media Association.
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