Trudeau’s defective apology to LGBTQ people

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
2016 protest in Marie Curtis Park. Photo by Declan Keogh / Toronto NOW.


— TORONTO — Some (mostly) good news for a change! Arising out of the effective resistance to a police campaign of anti-queer harassment, and arrests in Toronto’s Marie Curtis Park, all contested charges have been dropped. [In 2016, at least 78 people were entrapped by plainclothes officers, who tried to lure LGBTQ people to proposition them for sex.]

The victory is the result of strong local community organizing in the area, a development that likely would not have been possible even in the recent past. This suggests the growth of self-confidence and willingness to act in the public arena on the part of the local LGBTQ community and allies, which is really encouraging.

The other victory is in the federal arena: Prime Minister Trudeau’s apology for the decades-long vicious campaign by the RCMP and the military to eliminate gays and lesbians from the civil service and the armed forces. Between the 1950s and the 1990s, the Canadian state conducted widespread spying against queer people, firing numerous people simply on the basis of their sexuality, tried to intimidate them into giving information on others, destroying careers and lives along the way. (There were suicides that resulted from this witch-hunt.)

While Trudeau’s apology is fairly wide-ranging, it is also defective and lacks honesty. He attributes this atrocity to “the thinking of the time.” This was a deliberate and calculated policy orchestrated by the highest levels of the federal state. And the apology is the result of decades of protest organized by queer activists and their allies, not the implied generosity of the government.

Money has been allocated to compensate people grievously harmed by this campaign. But it is too late for many. And if compensation is handled the same way as it has been in the case of the atrocity of residential schools, people will wait a long time to see any money.

The promised expunging of criminal records involving consensual sex does NOT include convictions for violating the medieval bawdy house laws under which hundreds were arrested, as in the infamous Toronto bathhouse raids.

So, while the apology is a victory for queer communities, it is not an unqualified one, and major issues have not been addressed. Among these is the ongoing prohibition of gay men donating blood and the continuing criminalization of HIV. The struggle continues.


Socialist Action News

Related Articles

Combating Police Brutality and the COVID-19 Crisis: What Socialists Demand

Not since the Great Depression of the 1930’s has the American working class experienced with such gravity an assault to its standing as we are witnessing today. Do we continue under the irrational capitalist rule of the 1%, or do we demand meaningful solutions to the problems that have been thrust upon us, the 99%?