OTTAWA — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeatedly broke down in tears as he apologized to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Canadians Tuesday in a speech to the House of Commons.
Trudeau decried years of “state-sponsored, systematic oppression and rejection.”
The chamber was full as most of the Members of Parliament from all political parties were present for the historic moment when Trudeau issued a formal apology to homosexuals who lost their government jobs in the military, civil service or RCMP as result of their sexuality. He is also promising to expunge the criminal records of those who were prosecuted for consensual same-sex relations.
The Liberal government has set aside $100 million to “compensate” those who lost jobs or were denied career advancement.
“You are professionals. You are patriots. And above all, you are innocent. And for all your suffering, you deserve justice, and you deserve peace,” he said, eyes welling with tears.
He referred to the period prior to the legalization of homosexuality in 1968 as “our collective shame” and said it was also “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.”
Trudeau also bemoaned how some gay Canadians couldn’t volunteer for service clubs or travel because their sexuality had resulted in criminal prosecution.
On his way out the door of Parliament, Trudeau briefly spoke to reporters, saying “We have to be able to recognize ills of the past in order to move forward.”