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Canada’s Department of National Defence Releases Statement on the LGBT Purge Report


Today marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, a day created to reflect on the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTQ2 communities, and a reminder to be deliberate in our actions to end this form of discrimination.

On this day we acknowledge and are proud to show support for LGBTQ2 Defence Team members who contribute so much to our organization. This year also sees the release of the LGBT Purge Fund Report, ‘Emerging from the Purge: The State of LGBTQI2S Inclusion in the Federal Workplace and Recommendations for Improvement’. We welcome the recommendations from this report as an opportunity to do better and are committed to eliminating all forms of discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation within the Defence Team.

It wasn’t very long ago that members of the LGTBQ2 community were persecuted for who they were, with official sanction of the government. During this period known as the “LGBT Purge”, LGBTQ2 members experienced abusive and violent actions that included identifying, investigating, sanctioning, and in some cases, discharging lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Federal Public Service.

These experiences had significant impacts on the individuals who were targeted, resulting in lifelong trauma and emotional, psychological, relational and economic consequences. It also created an overall climate of fear within these organizations. While progress has been made, and official policies have changed, we also recognize that Defence Team LGBTQ2 members continue to experience discrimination, harassment, exclusion and misconduct today. We have made progress but we have more work to do, as this report indicates.

In 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially apologized for the LGBT Purge and worked diligently to reach a final settlement agreement with the plaintiffs of the LGBT Purge class action lawsuit in a fair, compassionate, and respectful manner. The Final Settlement Agreement stipulated that Subject Matter Experts, selected by the LGBT Purge Fund, would provide recommendations on improving training and inclusion throughout the federal workplace. During the summer of 2020, the Department of National Defence and CAF participated in the consultation process to help inform the LGBT Purge Fund Report. This process included individual interviews, document policy reviews and individual surveys. We will use the LGBT Purge Fund Report and its recommendations to identify measures needed to address systemic barriers and to strengthen inclusion practices, policies, tools, training materials and mechanisms to create an even more inclusive workplace for LGBTQ2 members of the Defence Team.

As part of our continued efforts towards a more inclusive workplace, a Defence Advisory Group officially launches today with a new name and purpose: the Defence Team Pride Advisory Organization. Its aim is to foster awareness of the barriers faced by LGBTQ2 communities, provide insight to leadership on systemic challenges, and create meaningful engagement throughout the Defence Team.

There are people who still feel the harm of discriminatory policies, like those that led to the LGBT Purge. On May 17th we acknowledge past harms and raise awareness of behaviors that contribute to homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. Although we can never undo the pain these policies caused, we must learn from our mistakes and do better for our members in a manner that respects the dignity of all.

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