Liberals to erase criminal records for consensual same-sex acts

Tuesday, 28 November 2017, 11:45:51 PM. The federal government has tabled a bill that will allow people convicted of historical same-sex offences to have their criminal records expunged.

The federal government has tabled a bill that will allow people convicted of historical same-sex offences to have their criminal records expunged.

Proposed legislation aims to correct a "historical injustice" now recognized as the criminalization of same-sex activity by consenting adults, effectively removing from the record convictions that would today be insistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act, Bill C-66, also allows for spouses, parents, siblings, children or legal representatives to apply for record expungement on behalf of deceased persons.

It gives the Parole Board of Canada jurisdiction to order or refuge to order expungement of convictions for offences that include gross indecency and anal intercourse.

If the conviction is expunged, the RCMP is to notify municipal, provincial and judicial authorities to order that all records are to be destroyed.

Scott Bardsley, spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said there are 9,000 historical records of convictions for gross indecency, buggery and anal intercourse in RCMP databases, but not all of them will be eligible for expungement.

"Since these offences identified both consensual and non-consensual activities, the charge information alone would not make the distinction," he wrote in an email. "Applicants will need to provide evidence that the conviction meets established criteria."

Similar bill in New Zealand

A similar bill was tabled in New Zealand earlier this year, allowing for the expungement of criminal records for historical offences such as indecency, sodomy and keeping a place of resort for homosexual acts.

The New Zealand bill's first reading in July 2017 was accompanied by a formal apology to those convicted of historical homosexual offences, and was then referred to the justice committee.

  • Expunging records not straightforward
  • Why Trudeau is apologizing to LGBT civil servants

The announcement is part of a historic apology that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will deliver in the House of Commons at 3 p.m. ET today. 

CBCNews.ca will carry it live, followed by a news conference with six cabinet ministers with affected files and the prime minister's special adviser on LGBT issues.

Trudeau on LGBT apology0:21

Arriving for a cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill today, Trudeau called it an "important day" for the LGBT community and for all Canadians.

"We need to recognize ills of the past in order to move forward, and that's what we're taking responsibility for," he said.

He will formally apologize for actions the government took against thousands of workers in the Canadian military and public service in the 1950s to the 1990s, including thousands who were fired because of their sexuality as part of a "national security" purge.

Some gay members of the Canadian Armed Forces were also discharged for what was termed "psychopathic personality with abnormal sexuality."

Ottawa also announced Monday that the government will earmark over $100 million to compensate LGBT civil servants whose careers were sidelined or ended because of their sexuality. 

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