clock menu more-arrow no yes

Canada to formally apologize to LGBTQ people for decades of discrimination

The apology will likely focus on the government’s previous anti-LGBTQ “purge.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at an LGBTQ Pride parade.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at an LGBTQ Pride parade.
Roberto Machado Noa / LightRocket via Getty Images

Canada has a message for LGBTQ people: sorry.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced over the weekend that on November 28, the government will issue a formal apology to LGBTQ Canadians.

According to Canada’s Globe and Mail, the apology “is expected to be the most comprehensive ever offered by any national government for past persecution of sexual minorities.”

The apology is expected to focus on Canadians who were criminally charged or lost their jobs due to their sexual orientation. From the 1950s to the ’90s, the Canadian government carried out what critics call a “purge” in which officials identified government employees they suspected were gay, forced the employees to go through humiliating tests — including one called the “fruit machine” — and interrogations, and ultimately kicked allegedly gay officials out of their jobs, the Canadian Press reported.

“It’s amazing,” Martine Roy, one of the victims of the purge, told the Canadian Press. “Even though if you fight all your life for that it's always hard to believe it will happen.”

Trudeau promised the apology a year ago after the LGBTQ group Egale Canada released a report on what the government could do to remedy its previous anti-LGBTQ actions. The government is also dealing with a lawsuit from thousands of people alleging they were persecuted due to their sexual orientation.

A financial settlement is also reportedly in the works, although the details of it are not yet public.

This isn’t the first formal apology Trudeau’s government has issued. As Lydia O’Connor reported for HuffPost, he also issued apologies for the government’s past treatment of indigenous peoples and the 1914 Komagata Maru incident, in which Canada denied entry to Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu people and forced them to go back to India, which was dangerous for the groups at the time.

Sign up for the newsletter The Weeds

Understand how policy impacts people. Delivered Fridays.