The assault on a gay night club in Orlando has cast a shadow over two reports that call for an apology from Justin Trudeau's government and restitution for homosexuals who were prosecuted and persecuted under Canadian policies in the past, and who still suffer discrimination today.
One report, prepared by Egale, a national organization that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Canadians, asks the Prime Minister to acknowledge in principle the need for an apology and redress for homosexuals who were criminally targeted because of their sexuality. Germany and Australia (through its state governments), are already at work on some combination of pardons, apology and redress.
Egale said on Sunday that it remains committed to releasing the report after the weekend's tragedy. It will be delivered to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on Monday and through her to the Prime Minister's Office. An advance copy was provided to The Globe and Mail.
The report proposes that retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci be asked to lead a one-year study on what shape an apology, restitution and action to prevent future discrimination against sexual minorities should take.
The report advocates "a process of 'truth and rehabilitation,' whereby the federal government will acknowledge the wrongs done to our community and commit to a process to make it right."
Mr. Trudeau has made advancing the rights of sexual minorities a priority for his government. Legislation will be coming to protect the rights of transgender Canadians, and Mr. Trudeau has indicated he is willing in principle to pardon Everett Klippert, who was designated a dangerous sexual offender in the 1960s simply because he was gay and to pardon other men who were criminally charged for committing homosexual acts.
However, Douglas Elliott, a lawyer and gay-rights advocate who co-authored the report, said an apology was warranted, not a pardon.
"We do not want the Queen's forgiveness," he said during an e-mail exchange. "Her Majesty should be asking for our forgiveness."
The Prime Minister will march in the July 3 Pride Parade in Toronto. Gay rights activists hope he will announce that he embraces the recommendations of both reports in principle beforehand. But moving from a pardon to an apology with promise of redress may be more than this government is prepared to embrace, however other countries proceed.
Another question is whether the issues raised by Sunday's attack will eclipse the debate over historical wrongs.
The other report, from the We Demand An Apology Network, released on Friday from a group of same-sex former public servants and academics who support them, places its greatest focus on public servants and members of the military who were targeted and dismissed or demoted because they were homosexual.
For decades, which in the case of the military ended only in the early 1990s, RCMP, military police and other security officials sought to identify homosexual workers, believing them unfit for service. "People were watched, followed, interrogated and purged from their jobs," the report states.
"…An apology for the wrongs committed by the Government of Canada against LGBT people is the least that is required to begin to right these wrongs," the report states.
Researchers such as Gary Kinsman, a professor at Laurentian University and a co-author of the We Demand report, estimate that the RCMP created a list of 9,000 suspected homosexuals in the Ottawa public service in the 1960s.
As well as an apology from the government, the authors of the report are demanding full disclosure of relevant documents, and an unspecified form of redress for survivors.
"This is an urgent matter," the We Demand report states, "since many who were purged and affected by these campaigns have died and more will soon be lost."
The Egale report also criticizes government policies that establish a higher age of consent for anal sex than for regular heterosexual intercourse, which is seen to discriminate against gays.
The one-year consultation process would aim to include all sexual-minority communities in a dialogue leading to an apology and proposal for restitution, which could take the form of, for example, research funding, rather than, or as a supplement to, individual cash payments.