Canada’s gay purge

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The Canadian government building | Canadian Government Executive | 17119

The Canadian government is expected to become the next country to apologise to former gay staff in the federal civil service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Armed Forces who were interrogated and harassed from the 1950s to the 1990s because of their sexuality.

During the Cold War, hundreds of gay men and lesbians in Canada lost government and military jobs because of their sexual orientation during the “LGBT purge”.

Gay men and lesbians in the civil service and the military were believed to pose a security risk, and thought to be vulnerable to blackmail by Soviet agents.
Hundreds of people are believed to have lost their jobs during four decades. Others were demoted, transferred, or denied promotion. Some were given the choice between being dismissed or undergoing psychiatric treatment.

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A lie detector | Canadian War Museum | 17118

A notorious “fruit machine”, similar to the lie detector pictured, was developed by researcher Frank Robert Wake. It was a crude detector which was intended to identify homosexuals by monitoring the dilation of their pupils when they were shown pornography. Plagued with problems, the project was mothballed.

Activists have been working for many years in Canada to remedy the situation. In 1992, Michelle Douglas, a former army officer, helped bring an end to discriminatory policies towards gays and lesbians. After being discharged from the army because she was a lesbian, she launched a legal challenge. On the eve of the trial the military settled the case and changed its personnel policies.

In 1996 the Canadian Human Rights Act was amended to include sexual orientation. In June 2017 Canada added gender identity and gender orientation to the Act.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40268010

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The Toronto gay bath house raids, 1981

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Police officers stand on the steps of the Ontario Legislature in Toronto in the early hours of Feb. 7, 1981 after gay rights demonstrators marched there in protest of the arrests on Feb. 5, 1981 of 253 men in four city steam baths | The Canadian Press/UPC/Gary Hershorn | 16242ga

Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders made a historic apology today for raids on four gay bathhouses in the Canadian city that took place 35 years ago. The events caused activists to mobilise for gay rights in Canada. He called the raids “one of the largest mass arrests in Canadian history.” The February 1981 event was notable for its “destructiveness” and that the raids did not occur on only one night.

“The 35th anniversary of the 1981 raids is a time when the Toronto Police Service expresses its regrets for those very actions. It is also an occasion to acknowledge the lessons learned about the risks of treating any part of Toronto’s many communities as not fully a part of society.”

“Recognizing diversity requires consistently renewed practice strategies and reaching out to communities and vigilance in challenging stereotypes. Policing requires building mutual trust and that means forging links with the full range of communities that make up this extraordinary city. The Toronto Police Service recognizes the lessons from that period have continuing relevance for the creation of a more inclusive city.”

Lorrie Goldstein of the Toronto Sun and a colleague paid a visit to one of the bath houses at the time, in search of a story.

…Subsequent to the raids on the four bathhouses in which 300 men were arrested for being found-ins or operators of a bawdy house, I was assigned by the Sun to spend the night in one with fellow reporter John Paton. …On the night of our own Operation Soap, I was nervous lining up to get into the Romans II bathhouse on Bay St., mainly because I didn’t know what to expect.

The fact you had to check-in and be admitted through a secured door after paying your entry fee and receiving a towel didn’t help.

What would I say if I was propositioned? Would there be orgies? If I saw someone underage being compelled into sexual acts, wouldn’t I have a moral obligation to intervene?

Nothing like that happened.

Aaaah.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/police-apology-raids-1.3647668

http://www.torontosun.com/2016/06/22/my-night-in-a-gay-bathhouse

Canada’s gay tests

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In 1961, at the height of the Cold War, the Canadian government hired professor Frank Robert Wake to devise a scientific test to determine whether a person was gay.

At the time the view was that homosexuals suffered from a character weakness that could make them disloyal and easy to manipulate. In the United States, in the grips of McCarthyism, homosexuals were seen as communist sympathizers.

The Canadian government compiled a list of people alleged, suspected or confirmed to be gay.

Wake, who was the chair of Carleton University’s psychology department, was asked to devise an easy and cheap method for determining a person’s sexual orientation. He came up with the “fruit machine” – a collection of psychological tests including one designed to detect how a subject’s pupil responds to images of naked or semi-naked men and women.

It never worked, and the project was eventually abandoned. Hundreds of people were fired or demoted from positions in the military or civil service after taking such “tests”.

http://www.ottawasun.com/2016/04/08/carleton-called-on-to-apologize-for-gay-testing

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Remembering Everett George Klippert

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in February 2016 that he “intends to recommend that a pardon under the authority of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy be granted posthumously” to Everett George Klippert, the only Canadian to be declared a dangerous sexual offender simply because he was gay.

“Everett Klippert’s case was instrumental in the government’s decision to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults,” said Cameron Ahmad, press secretary to the Prime Minister.

Everett George Klippert was born in 1926, and was convicted of 18 counts of gross indecency by a Calgary court in 1960, and spent four years in prison after pleading guilty to having consensual sex short of intercourse with other men. (Intercourse, or “buggery,” was a separate offence.) After a second conviction in 1965 on four additional counts of gross indecency, and a sentence of a further three years, the Crown attorney in Yellowknife applied to have him designated a dangerous sexual offender.

Two psychiatrists examined Mr. Klippert and concluded that he was not a pedophile or in any way inclined to violence but he was likely to once again seek out sex with men upon his release. Justice John Sissons then designated Mr. Klippert a dangerous sexual offender, and sentenced him to life imprisonment – in effect, for being gay.

In 1967 he Supreme Court of Canada upheld the designation in a 3-to-2 ruling, causing a furor in Parliament and the press. Then-justice minister Pierre Trudeau introduced legislation that, among other provisions, decriminalized consensual homosexual acts between two adult men. “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” he told reporters.

A similar bill became law in 1969, when Mr. Trudeau was prime minister. But for reasons that remain unclear, Mr. Klippert was not released on parole until 1971, having spent a total of 10 years in prison. Mr. Klippert moved to Edmonton, where he found work as a truck driver, and died in 1996, at the age of 69.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-to-consider-pardon-for-gay-men-convicted-under-pre-1969laws/article28927302/

http://www.cbc.ca/archives/entry/the-rocky-road-to-gay-rights

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New paintings depict Ontario’s gay history

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George MacIntyre | Rick Madonik/Toronto Star | 14386

Artist George MacIntyre has been working on a series of paintings in honour of the most important places in the gay history of Toronto, which have now been exhibited. George hopes the twelve paintings will be made into a calendar. Just before the paintings were unveiled George told the local media, “It was 30 years ago this September that I was diagnosed with HIV.” That means he was diagnosed in 1982; that also means he is a walking miracle, and his work is therefore a bright and brave history of the darkest times.

He began to paint in Barrett House, Toronto’s first residence for men with AIDS. “Boys were dying there every day. Brother Gerrard — he was a lovely man — told us we each needed a project, something to lift us up.” George chose to paint in the folk-art style. … “There was a day, years ago, when I was staying at Casey House, when we lost three people in one day. Two families did not come to claim their relatives. We called around; no one would take the others, and then Rosar replied. They were the first funeral home in the city to bury people who had AIDS.”

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