Federal government to issue formal apology this year to LGBT Canadians for past injustices

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      On the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, the Canadian government has announced it will a formal apology to LGBT Canadians for past injustices.

      Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, who is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's advisor on LGBT issues, stated in a news release issued today (May 17) that the federal government will acknowledge their role in legislation, programs, and policies involved in the discrimination against and inequity of LGBT people in Canada.

      Boissonnault also stated that a formal apology will be made before the end of this year.

      Justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who is also the MP for Vancouver Granville, introduced Bill C-16, which will protect individuals from discrimination and hate propaganda based on gender identity or expression, last year during 2016's IDAHTB. The bill is currently being considered by the Senate.

      Measures have also been introduced to repeal Section 159 of the Criminal Code, which states that the age of consent for anal sex is 18 years of age (while oral and vaginal sex is legal at age 16).

      Same-sex sexual activity was decriminalized in 1969 and sexual orientation was included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1995. In 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world to nationally legalize same-sex marriage.

      Both Boissonnault and Canadian foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland stated that the government also condemns the reported detainment, torture, and killing of bisexual and gay men in Chechnya.

      “Those who demean the LGBTI community must understand that diversity and inclusion are drivers of progress and prosperity," Freeland stated. "Recognizing equal rights is vital for any society to reach its full potential. That is why we are proud to be seeking to co-chair the Equal Rights Coalition, a network of 33 governments committed to promoting and protecting the rights of LGBTI people around the world, through which Canada will be able to provide greater leadership and expertise in this area."

      Freeland also reasserted Canada's commitment to the rights of LGBT people.

      "On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Canada stands with all LGBTI persons to condemn discrimination in every form. We must and will continue to raise LGBTI rights whenever and wherever necessary, reminding those who discriminate that human rights are universal and indivisible and apply equally to all human beings.”     

      Front cover of Canada Post's Official First Day cover 
      Canada Post

      Meanwhile on May 9, Canada Post launched a new stamp to commemorate the 2005 legalization of same-sex marriage with the Civil Marriage Act.

      The marriage-equality stamp is the fourth in a series of 10 stamps that Canada Post is rolling out for Canada's 150th anniversary. 

      In Vancouver, B.C. queer resource centre Qmunity will hold its 13th annual IDAHTB breakfast on Friday (May 19).

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