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Canada considering formal apology to veterans who were sacked for being gay

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LGBT ex-military still waiting on Ottawa for recognition

Post by Guest on Wed 26 Oct 2016, 16:42

LGBT ex-military still waiting on Ottawa for recognition

Suzanne Thibault

CTV Montreal
Published Wednesday, October 26, 2016 2:09PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 26, 2016 2:10PM EDT

Canadian military veterans who say they suffered emotional scars due to a former ban on gay people in the armed forces are still waiting for recognition from Ottawa.
After a CTV Montreal report spotlighting the turmoil many gay soldiers endured before administrative order 19-20 was repealed, some of the women say they have now been accepted into programs for psychological help.
“Sometimes it's a minute at a time,” said Johanne Boutin, who was among several women who shared their stories with CTV for the first time this summer. “I'm building myself up. The confidence is there. The emotions fluctuate.”

Suzanne Thibault left after years in the forces because she couldn’t take the harassment anymore. She now suffers from insomnia, PTSD and anxiety.
“The torture – the mental torture because you are someone they say you shouldn't be,” she said.
They are receiving help thanks to an organization called Help and Support for Veterans.
Meantime, the Prime Minister's Office said it is still looking into it and conducting a full review of the matter.
There is still no timeline, however, as to what the plans may be.
The full statement from the PMO is as follows:
’As Canadians, we know that protecting and promoting fundamental human rights are an imperative for governments and individuals alike – and this includes gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Our government is committed to equality, and has recently tabled historic legislation to ensure that full protection against discrimination based on an individual's gender identity and expression is included in the Canadian Human Rights Act.

As a society, we have made great strides in securing legal rights for the LGBTQ2 community in Canada – from enshrining equality rights in the Charter to the passage of the Civil Marriage Act. But the fight to end discrimination is not over, and a lot of hard work remains. Canadians know our country is made stronger because of our diversity, not in spite of it.
The government continues to take these issues very seriously, and is conducting a full review of the matter. We do not have a timeline to announce at this stage.’
Boutin said a simple apology won’t be enough.
“What we need is the government to continue to invest in Veterans Affairs so that they can go and get people who need help to bring them home,” she said.


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Commons committee demands service record change for LGBTQ kicked out of the Forces

Post by Guest on Wed 26 Oct 2016, 10:26

Commons committee demands service record change for LGBTQ kicked out of the Forces
[bIssue of LGBTQ treatment by military part of wider government apology, Sajjan suggests][/b]
By Murray Brewster, CBC News Posted: Oct 25, 2016 4:50 PM ET Last Updated: Oct 25, 2016 4:50 PM ET

Lt.-Cmdr. Mike Diberardo, centre, celebrates on Pride Day July 3 in Toronto. MPs are asking the federal government to make amends for LGBTQ military personnel who were dishonorably discharged before 1992. (DND Image Gallery)

The all-party House of Commons defence committee is calling on the Trudeau government to right a historic wrong done to former members of the military dishonourably discharged over 20 years ago because of their sexual orientation.

Being gay, lesbian or transsexual in the military meant automatic dismissal, prior to regulation changes in 1992.

NDP defence critic Randall Garrison called on the committee to ask Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to instruct the military ombudsman to investigate and amend the service records of those kicked out prior to the policy change.

There could be as many as 1,200 people who lost their careers because the rules at that time labelled their conduct disgraceful in military terms and a potential security risk.

Gay and lesbian Canadians were driven out of the military and public service beginning in the 1950s because homosexuality was seen as a weakness that could make them vulnerable to the "enemy."

The Liberal government announced in August it is planning an apology to the LGBTQ community for past wrongdoing, but the question of whether it will be tied to compensation is something that remains unclear.

Garrison's motion was supported by both Conservative members and MPs belonging to the governing Liberal party.

"We have a mechanism that can right the injustice," Garrison said Tuesday following the committee meeting.

The fact each party supported the motion is a step forward, considering the former Conservative government last year rejected a demand by the NDP for an official apology.

The fact each party supported the motion is a step forward, considering the former Conservative government last year rejected a demand by the NDP for an official apology.

Having a dishonourable military discharge on their record affected not only future employment chances, but also access to veterans benefits, said Garrison.

"This has been going for almost 25 years and we didn't correct the past injustice."

Gary Walbourne, the Canadian Forces ombudsman, has been unable to take action until this point because the watchdog position did not exist until 1998 — and that means he requires special instructions from the minister to proceed.

The fact some people have been under a cloud is not fair and not right, he said.

"I think that it needs to be corrected," Walbourne told CBC News.

The scope of his involvement has yet to be determined.

Members of Canada's military have marched in uniform in Pride Day events across Canada in recent years, in contrast to the pre-1992 era, where being openly gay meant automatic dismissal from the Canadian Forces. (DND Image Gallery)

The ombudsman could simply be asked to change the service records to reflect an honourable discharge, but there's also the possibility Walbourne could be ordered to investigate how the policy affected the lives of people.

"What impact has this had on an individual? That is a totally different realm of investigation," he said. "It all depends on the instructions given by the minister and how far he wants to go."

Sajjan sounded supportive but non-committal when asked in a conference call about the non-binding motion from the defence committee.

He suggested further action on his part needs to take place in lockstep with other ministers and departments.  

"This is very important, not just to national defence but to a wider government context as well. More is being done," he told reporters following a meeting in Paris.

"We in the government believe strongly that we should do this right. We will be looking at this in a much wider frame. Not just from our department, but from a much wider government perspective."

Other ombudsman concerns

During the same meeting Tuesday, Walbourne also warned that Canada's national security could soon be affected by ongoing systemic, legitimate complaints of soldiers and veterans.

He said easily addressed personnel problems — some of them long-standing — are the source of mounting frustration within the ranks and have started to affect the recruiting and retention of soldiers.

"I do believe recruitment is getting harder by the day," Walbourne said in an interview. "If we are trying to generate a force of a certain size and we can't get there, what do we do?"

He said outdated policies and procedures — some of them dating back to the Cold War and even earlier — are a burden that troops should not have to bear.

Walbourne repeated his call for a better system to ease retiring soldiers through the complex maze of defence and post-service benefits. Specifically he wants the military, not the veterans department, made responsible for determining whether a soldier's career-ending injury is attributable to their service.

Addressing the cost of transfers

But Walbourne also says some military families face "unreasonable financial losses" when they are forced to sell their homes in a hurry because they have been forced to transfer to another part of the country.

The current program meant to cushion the shock "provides insufficient protection," he says.

Another pocketbook issue, which has long been a lightning rod within the ranks, is the Post Living Differential program which helps offset the burden of being posted in high-cost regions of the country. The policy hasn't been updated since 2008.

"Why?" Walbourne asked MPs.

"These problems are not beyond comprehension — nor are they too tough to crack. The military that landed on Juno Beach can surely figure out whether a loaf of bread costs the same in Shilo as it does in Esquimalt or Borden or Bagotville. We cannot keep playing musical chairs on this issue. We must sit and make a decision. Working together, we know what to fix and, in almost all cases, we know how to fix it."


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Emotional scars remain for gay ex-military subjected to interrogations, dismissals

Post by Guest on Mon 01 Aug 2016, 19:58

Emotional scars remain for gay ex-military subjected to interrogations, dismissals.

August 1, 2016

A group of women who are all former members of the Canadian military say that in the 1980s, they were harassed, interrogated and ultimately discharged because they are gay.

Only recently have they found out they might be eligible for veterans’ assistance and a government pension. They want an apology, but moreover, they want to share their stories decades later to help others.

Veterans Suzanne Thibault, Martine Roy, Line Blackburn, Diane Vincent and Johanne Boutin share a similar story along with countless others.

They all joined the Armed Forces some three decades ago. They were all young – in their teens or early 20s – and impressionable.

“I was so proud to join the military,” said Vincent. “The military was the best thing that could ever happen to me. I was dedicated, I was loyal. I was happy and I showed it.

The women joined at a time when Canadian Forces Administrative Order 19-20 was still in place. Coming into effect in 1967, CFAO 19-20 (Sexual Deviation - Investigation, Medical Investigation and Disposal) reflected the government’s policy at the time not to allow or to keep homosexuals in the military, citing them as a security risk.

Members of the military suspected of being gay to be investigated and then subsequently released from service. The order was repealed in 1992 – too late for some who experienced the trauma of being relentlessly interrogated about their personal lives.

Interrogations and dismissals

“They interrogated me over and over and over again,” said Thibault.

“They brought me into a place and interrogated me for five hours,” added Roy.

“They would blindfold me and threw me in the back seat of the car,” said Boutin. “It's very illicit questioning – who they were with, what they were doing, did they have this secret handshake. It's crazy stuff that they asked – did they have orgies.”

“I was ashamed. My self-esteem was at zero,” said Blackburn.

Some of them left the Canadian Armed Forces on their own because they couldn't handle the harassment; others were dismissed. All of them bear emotional scars.

“After you leave the army, you have that in your head of injustice and that you are always scared somebody is going to do the same again. All the time, that's what's really hard, because you go on with your life and you feel like you can never be authentic. I feel like that all my life I had to work harder to make it,” said Roy.

“It's being afraid of who you are and just really hiding that and keeping it inside. I think it hurts you forever,” said Vincent.

“Your life is a lie and you become all messed up. You're not yourself,” said Thibault. “How can you be a full person if you've been told over and over there is something wrong with you?”


Reuniting this summer; some haven't seen each other in 36 years. Swapping stories helps, they said.

“It's also comforting to hear through their story that I'm normal,” said Boutin.

“To make you realize parts of your life are broken and are still broken, and that you're going through that and you felt all alone and you're not alone and that feels good,” said Vincent.

Decades later, they found out they might be able receive help from Veterans Affairs Canada, something that never crossed their minds.

“I could have had help a long time ago – a long, long time ago – I could have been helped with the feeling that I was left with,” said Thibault.

“For me, why nobody came to me,” said Roy. “That's one thing I don't understand. They never followed up on me, to ask, ‘Are you okay? Do you need something?’”


By speaking out, they hope to make others aware of the resources available.

Herself a veteran, Brigitte Laverdure is one of those reaching out to help after founding an organization called Soutien et Entraide Veteran Canada.

“I've had PTSD myself since 2004. I was down. I was down for quite a few years,” she said.

The group helps veterans sift through their paperwork to determine what a person could be eligible for in terms of benefits, including psychological help.

“There were people out there that needed help and didn't know how to get the help,” she added. “It's within the veterans’ groups across the country. People realize they can ask for help. With that, we built up a network of resources.”

At the time CTV met with these veterans, three already had their files accepted for assistance through the program. They say they’re all grateful they may finally be able to tackle their demons and put them to rest.

“Finally you see little bit of light at the end of the tunnel,” said Blackburn.

“I've been offered a hand and I took it,” said Boutin. “Today I feel like I have returned home after 36 years of long combat.”

“It breaks who you are,” said Vincent.

Diane Vincent

They say an apology would also help.

“The way they went about to hound people, to literally hound them, and then throw them out like trash, I think that's what they should apologize for,” said Vincent.

Government is investigating

The Department of National Defence says it is investigating the matter, and that no decision yet has been made on any formal apology or military pension. They say it is currently unclear how many ex-military were affected by the former policy, but are trying to determine that.
View the original document: CFAO 19-20 Sexual Deviation - Homosexuality

Veterans Affairs Canada issued a statement on the matter, saying:

“We encourage any Veteran with a service-related condition to come to VAC for help at any time. Veterans are entitled to benefits, no matter how long they have been released.

The Government of Canada has reinforced its commitment to develop and administer programs that take into account a gender-based analysis perspective. As a result, unique needs from a gender and sexuality perspective are being considered in the design of programs and services.”

In a statement, Longueuil — Charles-LeMoyne MP Sherry Romanado added that the government is working towards change:

"The Government of Canada, the Department of National Defence, and the Canadian Armed Forces are committed to the principles of equality and dignity for everyone, including LGBTQ members and veterans. I sit on both Veterans Affairs and National Defence committees and my two sons are members of the Canadian Forces so I take issues like this to heart. I am working with both departments to ensure that the all CAF members and veterans are treated with the same respect and dignity Canadians would demand for members of their own families. It is important that we have an open discussion on mental health and encourage more veterans to come forward to seek help."

The government also said someone who was released would be eligible for their pension as long as the criteria laid out in the Superannuation Act was met. Each individual's pension entitlements would depend on the circumstances as well as the timeframe of his or her release.

They claim it is “very unlikely very unlikely that someone would be unaware of their pension entitlement as the completion of the necessary paperwork is done as part of the transition process out of the military.”


While bringing up painful memories has been difficult, the women say it has given them each a sense of hope.

“I have faith that it will be a relief to me, to start having help and get my life better,” said Thibault.

“All you have to do now is take care of yourself for a minute, breathe. You don't have to lie anymore, just try to heal,” said Boutin. “I know I'm going to heal. I don't know when.”


Ex-military who were released from service under Canadian Forces Administrative Order 19-20 or left voluntarily may contact Brigitte Laverdure  of Soutien et Entraide Veteran Canada at 514-715-1252 or

Veterans Affairs Canada also states that any veteran who requires help should contact Veterans Affairs Canada Assistance Service at 1-800-268-7708 to speak with someone, and that it “has a well-established national network of around 4,000 mental health professionals who deliver mental health services to Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other operational stress injuries.”


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Re: Canada considering formal apology to veterans who were sacked for being gay

Post by 6608 on Fri 04 Mar 2016, 12:55

Here is an old article on government apologies (2009) long but a good read.

A Sorry State
"Canada is becoming a world leader in official apologies. Do they benefit anyone but the people offering them up?"

CSAT Member

Number of posts : 308
Location : NB
Registration date : 2012-06-23

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Re: Canada considering formal apology to veterans who were sacked for being gay

Post by Ex Member on Fri 04 Mar 2016, 09:51

The government owes a lot of apologies to Soldiers/Veterans.

Ex Member

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Re: Canada considering formal apology to veterans who were sacked for being gay

Post by bigrex on Fri 04 Mar 2016, 09:32

Yes, it's obvious that the person who wrote this doesn't lives in Canada, or have any idea about our political system. But as far as the apology is concerned, it is good I guess, but just like with the first nations, who are saying that an apology is worthless without some sort of reparations. So those who were dishonorably discharged solely for their sexual preferences should be entitled to collect a pension if they had enough time to qualify for it before their release.
CSAT Member

Number of posts : 3271
Location : Halifax, Nova Scotia
Registration date : 2008-09-18

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Re: Canada considering formal apology to veterans who were sacked for being gay

Post by czerv on Fri 04 Mar 2016, 08:52

Thats so funny. Times changed. Now, they make carriers in mil just for being that way.
Over and above others who are more qualified.
What a world.

CSAT Member

Number of posts : 222
Location : Ontario
Registration date : 2013-05-15

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Re: Canada considering formal apology to veterans who were sacked for being gay

Post by Guest on Fri 04 Mar 2016, 07:48

whats up with this ???

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s New Democratic Party had called on the then Conservative lead Canadian Government to make such an apology while in Opposition but one was not made.
Now activists are hopeful that the New Democratic Party will issue an apology now that they hold office.

a big "F" for this article.



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Canada considering formal apology to veterans who were sacked for being gay

Post by Guest on Fri 04 Mar 2016, 07:30

Gay and lesbian military personnel were barred from serving prior to 1992 but the Canadian Government is now considering issuing a formal apology for those sacked under the policy

The Canadian Government is reportedly considering issuing a formal apology to gay men and lesbians who were dishonorably discharged from the military and other national security agencies before they became able to serve openly in 1992.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Canada in 1969 thanks to legislation introduced by Pierre Trudeau – the father of Canada’s current prime minister Justin Trudeau.
But for another 23 years after that gay and lesbian Canadians would be sacked from Department of National Defense jobs if their sexuality became known at work.
It is estimated that hundreds, if not thousands, of gay and lesbian service members were dishonorably discharged from their jobs under the policy and a ‘We Demand an Apology Network’ has been campaigning to have their honor restored and an official apology.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s New Democratic Party had called on the then Conservative lead Canadian Government to make such an apology while in Opposition but one was not made.
Now activists are hopeful that the New Democratic Party will issue an apology now that they hold office.
Canada’s Global News sought comment from a spokesperson from the Ministry of National Defense who confirmed that a formal apology was being ‘considered.’
‘The Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defense are committed to the principles of equality and dignity for all,’ the spokesperson said in a statement.


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Re: Canada considering formal apology to veterans who were sacked for being gay

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