This article was published on November 29th, 2017
A dark chapter in Canada’s history was closed on Tuesday, November 27, 2017. In a bold move, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the Government of Canada, formally apologized to the LGBTQ2 community for wrongs the Canadian government did to queer people, offering $85 million in reparations. The Prime Minister addressed Parliament in an emotional speech that was genuine, authentic, and set a new precedent worldwide on LGBT rights. The speech received a standing ovation from the House of Commons, and was received with great gratitude by proud Canadian citizens across the nation. His address set Trudeau as the top world leader for the LGBTQ2 community, and a powerful ally of LGBTQ2 rights.
In addition to apologizing for the wrongful laws and actions the Canadian government instituted against the LGBTQ2 community in the past, the government tabled a bill to expunge criminal records related to past LGBT convictions.
The monumental speech in Canadian LGBT history allows for a new road to be paved, to right past wrongs, to celebrate diversity, and to ensure the future protection of the rights and freedoms of all LGBTQ2 Canadians. The government of Canada pledged to never let this happen again. This powerful moment propels Canada’s position to stand tall on the international stage for LGBT rights around the world, as a leading example to other jurisdictions.
In the last year, LGBT rights have suffered worldwide and the joy felt by Trudeau’s comments resonate deeply for those queer people living in the United States. Under the Trump administration, LGBT have seen rights stripped away under several of the President’s executive orders. Trump put transgender people serving in the military’s lives at risk by issuing an executive order banning trans people from serving. His travel ban on the eight countries he plans to block from entering the US has separated queer people from their families and loved ones. Conservatives push for so-called ‘religious freedom’ laws in states to legally sanction avoiding doing business with LGBT people. And Trump eradicated an Obama-era executive order that gave legal federal protections to those queer people from working in the government.
In other parts of the world, the news for gay people is even more harrowing. Russia continues its crack down on anything and everything gay. Saudi Arabia and Iran are still executing queer people. ISIS is still murdering gays. In the Ukraine and especially Chechnya, the governments there, endorsed by the Kremlin, have begun a systematic genocide of LGBT people in their respective regions, all with little to no restrictions, punishment, or intervention from the United Nations.
But there is hope. Australia had the world’s fourth public voting on marriage equality and their non-binding plebiscite that was supposed to end with the country turning their backs on fellow queer Aussies, ended up being a landslide for the yes for marriage equality side. Though this doesn’t force anything to law, it does answer the question that, yes: Australia is ready for marriage equality.
Germany formally legalized marriage equality in Parliament with the help but without the vote from Chancellor Angela Merkel. In the United States on election night a few weeks ago, 16 Democratic Socialists (the progressive Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party), won races for seats in government across the nation. Eight transgender people were also elected to public office, including Danica Roem, who unseated a 13-term incumbent in Virginia to become Virginia’s first trans state government worker, and Andrea Jenkins, America’s first transgender woman of color elected to public office.
And then there is Canada. The importance of Canada’s actions on the world stage under Prime Minister Trudeau is important to other nations and cannot be understated. Trudeau has been a vocal advocate for LGBT people and rights, upholding the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and continues to exemplify to the world that not only is he leading one of the greatest countries on earth, but also that Canada is the leader and biggest ally on the world stage for LGBT rights.
This isn’t the first time a Trudeau has stood up for the rights and freedoms of LGBT Canadians. On December 21, 1967, then acting as Justice Minister, and later to become the Prime Minster of Canada, Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau defended the sexual practices of Canadians. In his now famous and powerful speech, Pierre Trudeau stated, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation”. At that time Pierre Trudeau called for massive changes to the Criminal Code of Canada, including an appeal for the decriminalization of ‘homosexual acts’.
Watch Canada’s Prime Minster, Justin Trudeau’s emotional apology to LGBT Canadians:
How do you feel about Justin Trudeau and the Government of Canada’s apology to LGBTQ2 Canadians? Do you believe Justin Trudeau is the leading world figure for LGBT rights? Leave your comments below.