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Canadian government to apologise to LGBTQ2 Canadians for persecution and injustices suffered

“On November 28, the Government will offer a formal apology to LGBTQ2 Canadians in the House – for the persecution & injustices they have suffered, and to advance together on the path to equality & inclusion”, Trudeau wrote in a Tweet on Sunday.

In the 1950s and 1960s, LGBT people in Canada were seen as more than “just a social problem”, they were also viewed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as a “national security threat”. According to the RCMP, LGBT people were “unstable, self-deceiving, defiant towards society, and should not be entrusted with any government work which required secrecy”. This translated into reporting on men and women working in the Canadian civil service.

Why are people calling it the “fruit machine” apology?

Out of the anti-homosexuality security campaign in the Canadian civil service, came the invention of the “fruit machine”. Individuals were shown naked pictures of men and women and – using the so-called fruit machine – their arousal levels were recorded to determine whether they were “gay or straight”. The machine was created to assist in the persecution of LGBT people but ultimately failed and was abandoned. However, it still serves as a symbol in Canada of a shameful past.

According to the Calgary Gay History Project, “over 9000 people were harassed, questioned and targeted by the RCMP”. Many lost their jobs in the Canadian government or were demoted, while others were blackmailed into outing LGBT colleagues.

Since Sunday, Trudeau’s announcement has been shared across social media, with Canada’s national LGBTQI2S human rights organization Egale Canada celebrating the formal apology as being “one step closer to starting the process of healing”, but that it had been “long awaited”.

The apology will be made on 28 November.

For more on Canada’s anti-homosexual security campaign click here


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Danielle Mustarde

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