Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will officially apologise to members of the LGBTQI community who were affected by a Cold War-era campaign that aimed to rid the military and public service of gay people, CBC reports.
Between the 1950s and 1990s, policy determined that LGBTQI employees were considered a threat to national security, with officials believing they were more susceptible to blackmail by Soviet spies.
As a result, thousands of military personnel and public servants lost their jobs in the LGBTQI purge.
In the early days of the Cold War, the Canadian government used a crude and humiliating system for rooting out gay people known as the ‘Fruit Machine’.
Those who were suspected of being gay were forced to sit in a dentist’s chair and view pornographic images with a device measuring perspiration and pupil dilation.
CBC notes that by the 1960s, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had a database of 9,000 suspected gay and lesbian employees.
Randy Boissonnault—an openly gay Canadian MP and PM Trudeau’s LGBTQI advisor—has promised the government is working on pardons and expungements for “Canadians who were charged and who still have on their records criminal offences that are, you know, no longer on the books."
"We're going to work closely with members of all facets from the LGBTQ community to make sure that our apology is comprehensive and that it takes into account a broad range of the stories and the lived experience of Canadians," said Boissonnault.
However, Alberta MP Randall Garrison says that victims of the campaign have waiting too long for the government to make amends.
"We're very disappointed that all we get is a repeat of the promise," he said.
"The focus of most people in the community is an apology that's meaningful, a recognition that people's careers were harmed, in particular those in the military who want their service records amended to say their service was honourable."
Garrison noted that the federal government is currently facing a $600 million dollar class action law suit from members of the military and public service who were victims of the anti-gay policy.
"It's very important to separate the apology from what's taking place with the class action suits,” he said.