In 1965, Everett Klippert was arrested, charged with “gross indecency” and deemed “incurably homosexual” by a Canadian court-ordered psychiatrist. Though we may make jokes about being “incurably homosexual” nowadays, for Klippert, it was no laughing matter. The court used this ruling to sentence him to prison indefinitely. In 1969, Canada legalized homosexuality and, two years later, Klippert was released. He was the last man arrested in Canada for homosexuality, and a new documentary tells his story.
Everett Klippert’s story starts in 1960, when, at 34 years old, he was arrested, convicted on 18 charges of gross indecency and sentenced to four years in prison. Cops arrested him after the father of one of his lovers reported him. Upon Klippert’s arrest, police found a black book full of contact information for his previous lovers.
After he was released, Klippert moved from Alberta to the Northwest Territories, where he worked as a mechanic. About a year later, a police officer arrested him in connection to a suspected arson.
Klippert had nothing to do with the fire and was later cleared of this charge. But before he was cleared, the officer threatened to pin the arson charge on him if he didn’t confess to having sex with four men. (And, in case there’s any doubt, all of Klippert’s relationships were consensual.)
Afraid of being charged for an arson he didn’t commit, Klippert confessed. A court-ordered psychiatrist deemed him “incurably homosexual” and the court sentenced Klippert to “preventative detention,” in other words, locking him up as a sex offender indefinitely to stop him before he dared to love someone again.
Everett Klippert appealed the decision, but the appeals court dismissed his case. Klippert appealed a second time, this time to the Supreme Court of Canada, but that court also dismissed his appeal in a 3-2 decision.
Though the courts refused to set things right, the case became famous. The day his conviction was upheld, New Democratic Party leader Tommy Douglas went before the House of Commons to declare that homosexuality should not be criminalized.
Soon after, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (father of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) submitted Bill C-150, an omnibus bill taking care of many different matters. One of those matters, however, was the decriminalization of consensual homosexual acts. Bill C-150 passed, and homosexuality became legal in Canda in 1969.
Though homosexuality was legal as of 1969, Everett Klippert wasn’t released from prison until July 21, 1971. Klippert lived a private life until his death of kidney disease in 1996.
In 2016, Justin Trudeau announced Klippert would be given a posthumous pardon,, but that pardon has yet to come through. Pardons aside, his love of men never should’ve been a crime in the first place.