Ottawa November 15 2016 – Homosexual activists are pressuring the federal Liberal government for new demands. These include, among others:
- Apologizing to homosexuals who were convicted of the criminal offence of gross indecency for committing homosexual acts;
- Apologizing to homosexuals who were dismissed from the public service or discharged from the military because of their homosexual acts; and
- Awarding compensation for the above reasons. This would involve individual compensation and/or funding for programs or services.
Alleged discrimination towards homosexuals in Canada, however, can be clearly distinguished from the treatment shown other groups.
There is a long list of discriminatory policies by previous governments, for which the Canadian government has since apologized. For example, some groups were denied admission to Canada and even if a few were admitted, they were denied full citizenship rights. To cite some examples:
- The Chinese Head Tax of $50 passed in 1885, but increased in 1903 to $500 which was equivalent to two years’ wages for a Chinese labourer. In 1923 Canada passed the Chinese Immigration Act which excluded all but a few Chinese immigrants from entering Canada; During this exclusion era, Chinese who were already resident here, were not allowed to bring in their families;
- In 1914 the ship, the Komagata Maru, which had 376 passengers from India, was refused landing in Vancouver. Sikhs and Hindus at that time were denied the right to vote, prohibited to run for public office, serve on juries, and were not permitted to become accountants, lawyers or pharmacists;
- In 1939 the German ship, the St. Louis, turned away 900 German Jews seeking sanctuary from Nazi Germany. It was forced to sail back to Europe where many of these passengers died in concentration camps; and
- In 1942 the Canadian government by Order in Council ordered the evacuation of all persons of Japanese origin to internment camps. Their property was seized without compensation and never returned to them.
The situation with regard to the homosexuals is different. Homosexuality was prohibited under the Criminal Code until Trudeau Sr. decriminalized it in 1969 for consenting adults over 21 years of age, (later reduced to 18 years). The practice of homosexuality was a crime, formerly referred to in the Code as buggery or sodomy, but referenced as anal intercourse in the 1969 Amendments to the Code. This prohibition was in accordance with the social and cultural values of the time.
The Criminal Code prohibition against homosexuality was based on the moral law as expressed in the Judeo Christian faith and principles. Society in general believed religion provided good guidance which protected people from negative consequences. For example, bacterial infections and death by venereal disease, were the consequences of promiscuity before antibiotics. Thus the law served to protect people from these and other negative consequences.
The reason for the dismissal of homosexuals in the military and public servants was because they were subject to blackmail if their sexual orientation was publicly disclosed. This blackmail could result in not only forcing homosexuals to pay money in return for silence, but also could include requiring them to divulge national security secrets to which they were privy because of their employment. Also, homosexuals in the military had led to problems in operational effectiveness because of the impact on the cohesion and morale of the unit.
You don’t have to agree with the past law that prohibited homosexuality in the Criminal Code. It may not be acceptable to everyone, but it was not unjust discrimination. Such action by the government was distinguishable from the outright discrimination that occurred when groups were refused entry into Canada and denied full citizenship rights.
This was not the situation with homosexuals who were, in fact, accepted as citizens.