It was sadly common in the mid-20th century for governments to purge their offices of LGBTQ people. However, Canada’s set to put things right. On Nov. 28, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will apologize for the Canada gay purge. And, thanks to a class-action lawsuit, the government will also pay out over $100 million to those affected.
The details of the payment will still have to be worked out and approved by Canada’s Federal Court. However, it’s believed several thousand victims of the Canada gay purge will receive payment.
The court decision to pay those who were purged was made on Nov. 24. Oddly enough, the timing is coincidental. Trudeau has been set to apologize on Tuesday for the past two weeks.
As part of the apology for the Canada gay purge, the government is contributing $250,000 to community projects fighting homophobia. They’ll also table legislation on Tuesday which will allow the criminal records of people convicted for consensual homosexual acts to be expunged. Canadians will have to apply for expungement, however. Thankfully, families can also file on behalf of deceased people hurt by the gay purge.
Canada isn’t the only country to apologize for its gay purge this year. In February, the United Kingdom finally pardoned 49,000 gay and bisexual men convicted of homosexuality. It took the U.K. ages, though. In 2013, they pardoned the WWII hero Alan Turing of homosexuality — and that took over a year. At the time Turing’s family urged the U.K. to pardon everyone with a homosexuality conviction, but the government refused.
This June, Germany’s Parliament unanimously voted to pardon the 50,000 men convicted of homosexuality. Germany also granted €3,000, plus an additional €1,500 for each year they spent in prison to the men who are still alive. The same month, New Zealand introduced legislation to pardon some of the people convicted of homosexuality, but refused to pardon those convicted of other crimes.
While gay purges were done in fear of LGBTQ state employees sharing secrets with the Soviet Union, according to Gary Kinsman, a sociology professor at Laurentian University, there is no evidence of any state employees ever turning over information.
“Really what it was about was pushing lesbians and gay men outside the fabric of the nation, defining our sexualities as being somehow a security risk,” Kinsman said. “And on the other side, defining heterosexuality as the national safe and secure sexuality.”
Featured image by Justin Tang/Canadian Press