Special adviser for LGBTQ issues to address former military ban
Published Tuesday, November 15, 2016 12:03PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 15, 2016 7:18PM EST
It’s not an apology yet, but as Ottawa named a special adviser on LGBTQ issues Tuesday, it outlined his mandate, including righting the wrongs of the past.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed MP Randy Boissonnault to address the discrimination faced by LGBTQ individuals and communities.
"It's really important for our government to make sure we listen to all members of the LGBTQ community and that an apology is done in a respectful manner that takes into account all of the issues that the LGBTQ has faced over time, so we will take the time to get this right," said Boissonault, an MP from Edmonton. “As the first openly gay MP elected in Alberta, it's really important for me to get this right.”
To do that, Boissonnault has pledged to work with organizations across Canada, representatives of which were with him at the official news conference in Ottawa.
Part of his mandate is to address discrimination by the armed forces.
This summer, CTV reported the stories of several veterans who were dismissed, or who quit, after repeated harassment and interrogations due to their sexual orientation.
At the time, the government had a policy excluding homosexuals from taking part in the military, called Canadian Forced Administrative Order 19-20.
Many said the ban led to years of battling emotional scars, including PTSD and anxiety issues.
Some groups said this is a step in the right direction, but hope an apology does not take too long.
“I see light at the end of the tunnel,” said Brigitte Laverdure, who runs a group called ‘Victims of CFAO 19-20 in Quebec.’
She plans to make sure Boissonault hears the stories of the 100 people in her group, but said her priority is helping them.
“Get them psychological help, financial help, because a lot of them cannot work. Some people were on welfare, some of them were on the street,” she said.
Most simply want an apology, like former soldier Martine Roy.
“Until they are not going to admit doing it and apologize for it, I will still feel the same way,” she said. “My self-esteem was destroyed for years. It took a long time to rebuild myself.”
Boissonnault said it may take some time but he is committed to the cause.
“You can make an apology, but it also needs to be accepted. We want to make sure that the elements we put into any apology that come from the government of Canada is done in a way that is meaningful and can and will be accepted by the LGBTQ community,” he said.