Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is basically the leader many Americans wish we had. And on November 28th, Trudeau continued his tradition of socially progressive policies when he offered a “long overdue apology” to Canada’s LGBTQ+ community.
Trudeau spoke in the House of Commons, wiping away tears as he apologized for “state-sponsored, systemic oppression” of the LGBTQ+ community.
Trudeau’s apology specifically pointed to the mistreatment of indigenous two-spirit people, who identify as both male and female and are represented by a “2” in the acronym LGBTQ2.
From the 1950s to the 1990s, thousands of Canadians were fired or forced to resign from their jobs under suspicion that they were gay or transgender — all due to widespread government monitoring and interrogation of public servants. Some of the targeted people ultimately committed suicide, and Trudeau’s apology specifically referred to this tragedy:
Trudeau also apologized for the government’s criminalization of same-sex sexual activity, which ended in 1969. Earlier that day, the government introduced legislation that would eliminate the criminal records of those convicted under this law.
The government also said it would pay victims of the “gay purge” a collective 110 million Canadian dollars, which is about $85 million in U.S. money.
Trudeau’s administration has been praised for its social progressivism over the past two years. Trudeau kicked off his term as prime minister of Canada by appointing a diverse, feminist cabinet. And in September of this year, Trudeau publicly apologized to Canada’s indigenous peoples for the oppression they have faced.
Trudeau’s apology won’t undo the many injustices endured by LGBTQ+ people in Canada, but it’s a step in the right direction. Trudeau’s willingness to acknowledge his government’s past wrongs and apologize gives us so much hope for change within our own nation.