October 2022 marked the 30th anniversary of the lawsuit brought by Michelle Douglas that ended the ban on LGBT people serving in the military. The month was an important time to celebrate, reflect and fight for what still needs to be done for full inclusion of 2SLGBTQI+ folks in the federal workplace. Our work over the past month had the twin objectives of raising awareness about the LGBT Purge and bringing attention to a report we published last May called “Emerging from the Purge.”
Michelle began the month travelling to five cities in Canada to meet survivors and share stories about the LGBT Purge with the public. In Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, Fredericton, and Montreal, events included panel discussions and screenings of the award-winning documentary, “The Fruit Machine.” The tour reinforced the need to raise awareness about this shameful chapter of Canadian history, as we continue to be surprised by how few know about the Purge. You can view the documentary online here.
The busy month culminated with a press conference and a week of meetings with politicians on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. With colleagues from Egale Canada and Fondation Émergence, we stressed the need for systemic change in the federal workplace and full implementation of the 23 recommendations in the “Emerging from the Purge” report. The report followed an in-depth research program on the current state of inclusion in the public service, the RCMP and the Military. You can read the report here. Spoiler alert: there is still much work to be done!
Like so much human rights work, the report was initiated and accomplished by those who faced the discrimination they seek to remedy. Though the report was mentioned in the government’s 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan in August 2022, we continue to push for concrete commitment for how and when its recommendations will be implemented. We plan to continue our efforts to ensure that the government allocates necessary resources, provides better training and remains accountable for exclusion in both the past and the present.
On October 29th, more than 20 Purge survivors gathered together in Toronto to attend a gala hosted by the Toronto Police LGBTQ Internal Support Network. Over 200 people attended this gala which honoured Purge survivors and acknowledged the work of Michelle Douglas on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of her landmark legal challenge against the Canadian Armed Forces. Guest speaker Svend Robinson recounted the history of the LGBT Purge. A tribute video also featured Michaëlle Jean, Brian Mulroney and Jody Wilson-Raybould, among others.
As always, our work last month was driven by a desire to make the federal workplan fairer, so that people can fulfill their aspirations to serve – something that was taken away from LGBT Purge survivors. We still need to ensure that our rights are protected and that future generations of 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians can serve this country with dignity, equality and full inclusion.