Justin Trudeau Wiped Away Tears While Apologizing To LGBT Community On Canada's Behalf

“I stand here today and say: We were wrong."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wiped away tears as he issued a formal apology to the country's LGBT community on Tuesday, a speech that touched on a dark history of discrimination against LGBT people in Canada. Trudeau gave the emotional address in the House of Commons in Ottawa, apologizing directly for a discriminatory government program known as the "gay purge" that lasted more than 30 years. Trudeau, who has championed LGBT issues, pledged to "never repeat" the injustices.



"It is with shame and sorrow and deep regret for the things we have done that I stand here today and say: We were wrong," he said. "It is my hope that in talking about these injustices, vowing to never repeat them, and acting to right these wrongs, we can begin to heal."

Following the speech, Trudeau announced that the Canadian government would be issuing $85 million in reparations to compensate victims of the program, which ran into the early 1990s. During the purge, many Canadians were prosecuted for their sexual orientation. Others lost jobs, were kicked out of the military, or banned from public service for being gay. The Canadian government also brought forward legislation that would erase the criminal records of anyone who was charged for having consensual, same-sex relationships.

Throughout the state-sponsored campaign, members of the military were forcefully removed from their positions to prevent blackmail by the Soviet Union. The New York Times reports that "authorities conducted surveillance, made threats and even developed a so-called 'fruit machine' built in order to detect homosexuality." Some women were allegedly raped by men, which lawyers for the women say was intended to "correct their sexual orientation."

Trudeau's speech and the reparations earmarked for the victims are being called "unprecedented" by LGBT rights activists. 

"Today, we offer a long overdue apology to all those whom we, the Government of Canada, wronged," Trudeau said. "We are sorry. We hope by acknowledging our failings we can make the crucial progress LGBTQ2 people in Canada deserve. We will continue to support each other in our fight for equality because we know that Canada gets stronger every single day that we choose to embrace diversity." 

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