Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has delivered an emotional apology to Canadians who served in the military and civil service who were historically persecuted for their sexual orientation, CBC reports.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Trudeau teared up as he apologised for the “tragic act of discrimination” that LGBT+ Canadians suffered under because of a government policy that spanned decades.
“We were wrong. We apologise,” Trudeau said.
“You are professionals. You are patriots. And above all, you are innocent. And for all your suffering, you deserve justice, and you deserve peace.
"It is our collective shame that you were so mistreated. And it is our collective shame that this apology took so long – many who suffered are no longer alive to hear these words. And for that, we are truly sorry."
The Canadian government enacted an anti-LGBT+ policy in the 1950s that Trudeau described as a “witch hunt”.
"From the 1950s to the early 1990s, the government of Canada exercised its authority in a cruel and unjust manner, undertaking a campaign of oppression against members, and suspected members, of the LGBT communities," he said.
The Trudeau government has set aside $110 million CAD to be distributed among LGBT+ victims whose lives were ruined by the government policy. A further $15 million CAD will go towards historical education and reconciliation programs.
The Prime Minister’s advisor on LGBT+ issues, Randy Boissonnault commented on Twitter that “all Canadians deserve to feel safe and to have their most fundamental rights protected.
“That is why the Government of Canada is working to address systemic discrimination against people who identify as #LGBTQ2.”
Canada follows in the footsteps of countries including Scotland, England and New Zealand that have all recently issued apologies for the devastating impacts of historic anti-LGBT+ laws.