Media Package from the WE DEMAND AN APOLOGY NETWORK
The WE DEMAND AN APOLOGY NETWORK Statement
Support Statements from those directly affected by the national security purge campaigns.
The WE DEMAND AN APOLOGY NETWORK Statement
The “We Demand an Apology Network” demands an apology for the historical wrongs committed by the Canadian government against LGBT people. We bring together people who were directly affected by the national security campaigns to purge ‘homosexuals’ from the public service, the RCMP and the military, and supporters and researchers who believe an injustice was done.
At the same time as the Canadian government claims to be firm supporter of LGBT rights on a world-scale, it has still not come to terms with the anti-LGBT national security purge campaign directed against LGBT people in Canada that it was directly responsible for. This campaign led to surveillance on thousands of people and the destruction of the careers and livelihood of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of LGBT people from the 1950s until the 1990s. For example, in the 1960s the RCMP created a list of more than 9,000 suspected homosexuals in the Ottawa area. They attempted to develop a ‘fruit machine’ to identify ‘homosexuals’ using federal research moneys in the 1960s. Identification as a ‘confirmed’ homosexual meant the loss of employment and denial of security clearances. People were watched, followed, interrogated and purged from their jobs. Research indicates that the historical campaign against ‘homosexuals’ also resulted in deaths (Gouliquer, Poulin & Hobson, 2012). Fiona, the sister of a discharged soldier discusses her brother’s suicide:
He was traumatized… They [Canadian military] made him believe that he was a pervert.… That he could never be trusted with anything or anyone…. He said [in his note] that he’d ruined our mother’s life, his life, everyone’s life, and he could no longer live with that. (Fiona).
There has never been an apology from the government for the injustice and harm caused by this campaign. We demand an apology and the commitment that such a campaign will never happen again.
Authorized at the highest levels the Canadian government organized through its national security institutions, including the Security Panel, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), and the Canadian Armed Forces (CF) an official campaign against thousands of people. ‘Homosexuals’ were defined as suffering from a ‘character weakness’ that supposedly led them to be open to blackmail by ‘enemy’ agents. Research has shown that those people who were interrogated and followed by the RCMP, CSIS or the CF, felt that the only people who tried to blackmail them were the Canadian security officers, themselves. They tried to force them to reveal the names of gay and lesbian armed forces members, and public servants. These security campaigns were vicious incidents of tracking, humiliating, interrogating, threatening, hounding, and in addition, discharging or firing individuals. Research has shown that as a result some people were forced to flee Ottawa, or even the country, and some people simply stopped having sex. These campaigns forced many LGBT people into the closet and into living a ‘double-life.’
The Canadian military: During WWII people suspected of homosexuality were discharged from the military for being “psychopathic personalities with abnormal sexuality.” Later this evolved into prohibitions against ‘sexual deviates,’ those with ‘sexual abnormalities’ and ‘homosexuals’ (see Canadian Forces Administrative Order 19-20). Military security was directed to enforce both national security regulations against LGBT people and military regulations prohibiting homosexuals from being in the military for both national security and disciplinary reasons. In the 1960s the first focus was on the Navy. Investigations also had a particular focus on lesbians in the 1970s and 1980s. For instance, five women were dismissed from the Canadian Armed Forces Base in Shelburne, Nova Scotia in 1984 as “hard-core lesbians.” For the women and men in the military, this often included grilling by male military police officers about the sexual practices in which they engaged. In the late 1980s, military members suspected of ‘homosexuality’ would have their security clearance suspended and were transferred to very low level employment positions on military bases, which in practice ‘outed’ this person to other people on the base.
The Public Service: In the very early years a major focus was on External Affairs. In 1960, the RCMP identified 59 suspected homosexuals in External Affairs. Research has shown that External Affairs was hit hard with the transfer of John Holmes, and the dismissal and resignation of many others. In 1960, 363 confirmed and suspected homosexuals were identified by the RCMP in government work. In 1961 this went up to 460 and in 1962 850 were identified. In the public service this campaign was extended into many areas having little to do with national security including: the Post Office, Central Mortgage and Housing, Health and Welfare, Public Works, Unemployment Insurance, and to the NFB and CBC. LGBT public servants faced systemic discrimination during these years.
People outside the military and public service: The RCMP security police would approach LGBT people outside the public service and military to get them to inform on LGBT members in these institutions. They often threatened to lay criminal charges against these individuals unless they gave the names and identities of their LGBT acquaintances and friends. They were able to do this given the complete criminalization of homosexual practices until 1969 and the continuing criminalization of consensual homosexual sexualities that existed for decades after that. In the 1970s because gay and lesbian movement organizations challenged these national security policies in the military and public service many of these organizations were also subjected to RCMP surveillance and were spied on.
While these national security campaigns began to weaken in the public service by the mid-1980s they continued at a very high level of intensity in the RCMP, CSIS and the military. Indeed, the purge campaign continued despite the McDonald Commission report into the RCMP violations of people’s rights in 1981, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, and the Equality Rights Section of the Charter in 1985.
In the military the purge campaign officially continued until 1992. Many people identified as suspected homosexuals in the military chose to resign, or accept dismissal on other grounds. Many were released as “not advantageously employable” which created problems in finding other employment. But directly under CFAO 19-20, it is reported that even in the 1980s hundreds of military members were discharged. For example, reports indicate that 45 people were dismissed in 1982, 44 in 1983 and 38 in 1984. But another source has 100 people being dismissed in 1982 alone. Other sources report that discharged armed forces members were calculated as: 18 people in 1985, 13 in 1986, 7 in 1987, 10 in 1989, 4 in 1990, and 2 in 1991-92. However, because of national security restrictions, information deleted from Access to Information requests, and inconsistent recording, the numbers officially discharged has never been able to be confirmed. This is why more information withheld on the grounds of ‘national security’ needs to be released. Violence and abuse against those identified and outed as gay or lesbian in the Canadian military was tolerated — if not encouraged — by the military hierarchy during these years.
The military hierarchy very actively fought the ending of its exclusionary policies until it was forced to officially end these practices in the Michelle Douglas Supreme Court decision in 1992. Michelle Douglas and four others engaged in legal battles with the Canadian military in 1992 are the only people in Canada who have ever been recognized and redressed for these attempts to destroy their careers. There remain major problems within the Canadian military regarding sexual assault and abuse against women and hostility towards LGBT members.
A fuller public picture of the national security campaigns against LGBT people in the public service and military became visible as a result of journalist Dean Beeby’s articles in newspapers in 1992, based on Access to Information Requests. In response to a question based on these reports by NDP MP Svend Robinson then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney stated that the purge campaigns reported in these articles would “appear to be one of the great outrages and violations of fundamental human liberty that one would have seen for an extended period of time.” He went on: “[I do not] know much beyond what I have read … but I have instructed the Clerk of the Privy Council to bring forward for consideration ways that we might examine this more carefully because on its face it would appear to be a fundamental violation of the rights of Canadians and, if it is as it has been reported, a most regrettable incident.”(See Canada, House of Commons Debates, (April 27, 1992), 9713-14; and “PM Denounced 1960s Purge of Homosexual Civil Servants,” Globe and Mail, April 28, 1992). However he did not call for an inquiry or offer an apology and nothing ever came of this.
When calls for an official apology were made by researchers and activists in 1998 the Liberal government produced briefing notes for government officials stating that if they were asked about this they should respond by arguing that this was already investigated by the McDonald Commission into RCMP wrongdoing in 1981. However the McDonald Commission did not significantly investigate the national security campaigns against gay men and lesbians; these campaigns continued long after 1981 in the public service and the military; and no apology for these practices was included in the Commission report.
It is now way past time for an official apology by the Canadian government to the hundreds, if not thousands, of people whose lives and careers were destroyed and harmed by these national security campaigns. This is why we welcome and strongly support the NDP motions M-517 and M-521 calling for the revising of the service records of all those discharged from the Canadian Forces on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and for an official government apology to all members of the public service and military who were harmed by the purges, and discharged on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We also support Bill C-600 which calls for suspending the criminal records for homosexual activities that are no longer illegal. It was the use of these offences as a threat to get people to provide information on their gay and lesbian friends and acquaintances that produced some of the ‘evidence’ identifying people as homosexuals to be discharged from the public service and the military.
We demand that the Canadian government apologise to all who were directly affected by these national security purge campaigns and indicate that the Canadian state will not allow anything like this to happen again. This is an important step in opening the door for recognition and support for the hundreds, and perhaps thousands of people, whose lives and careers were harmed by these government policies.
Media contacts for the We Demand An Apology Network:
Brenda Barnes (Whitehorse) (w) 867-667-4441; (h) 867-393-3018; email@example.com
Lynne Gouliquer (Fredericton) 506-457-0855; firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary Kinsman (Toronto) (h) 647-477-2065 (cell) 647-385-4221; email@example.com
Carmen Poulin (Fredericton) (506) 458-7800; firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul-Emile Richard (Montreal) 514-286-9759; email@example.com
Martine Roy (Montreal) 514-246-8411; firstname.lastname@example.org
See Canada, House of Commons Debates, (April 27, 1992), 9713-14.
Lynne Gouliquer, “Negotiating Sexuality: Lesbians in the Canadian Military,” in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Lives: Health, Well-Being and Body Image, edited by Baukje Miedema, Janet M. Sheppard and Vivienne Anderson, (Toronto: Sumach Press, 2000), 254-276.
Lynne Gouliquer, “What Gay Servicewomen can tell us about the gender order. Feminism(s) Challenge the Traditional Disciplines,” (MCRTW Mongraph Series No. 1). (McGill University, Montréal, Québec: McGill Centre for Research on Teaching and Women, 2001).
Lynne Gouliquer and Carmen Poulin, “For Better and for Worse: Psychological Demands and Structural Impacts on Gay Servicewomen and their Long-term Partners.” In D. Pawluch, W. Shaffier & C. Miall (Eds.) Doing Ethnography: Studying Everyday Life (pp. 323-335). (Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press, 2005). (Authorship order was determined randomly).
Lynne Gouliquer, Carmen Poulin and Kristina Hobson, “Health Implications for gay soldiers: Canadian military policies and practices (2012).” Unpublished manuscript.
Gary Kinsman and Patrizia Gentile, The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation, (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2010).
Carmen Poulin and Lynne Gouliquer, “Clandestine existences and secret research: Eliminating official discrimination in the Canadian military and going public in academia.” (Journal of Lesbian Studies, 16(1), 54-64, 2012).
Carmen Poulin, Lynne Gouliquer and Jennifer Moore, “Discharged for Homosexuality from the Canadian military: Health Implications for Lesbians.” (Feminism & Psychology, 19(4), 497-516, 2009).
Carmen Poulin,” The military is the wife and I am the mistress: Partners of gay servicewomen.” (Atlantis, 26(1), 65 – 76, 2001).
Hector Mackenzie, “Purged … From Memory: The Department of External Affairs and John Holmes,” International Journal: Canadian Institute of International Affairs, 59, 2 (2004), 375-86.
Jennifer Moore, Carmen Poulin, and Lynne Gouliquer, “Partners of Canadian lesbian soldiers: Examining the military family social support system.” (Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 50(2a), 99, 2009).
“PM Denounced 1960s Purge of Homosexual Civil Servants,” Globe and Mail, April 28, 1992
Support Statements from those directly affected by the national security purge campaigns.
June 2, 2015 Press Conference
Supporting statement from former naval reserve Lt(N) Brenda Barnes
May 27, 2015
In the summer of 1983, in the face of an economic recession and no jobs in Ontario, I joined the Summer Youth Employment Program at the naval reserve unit, HMCS Queen in Regina, my home town. After graduating at the top of my class, I was encouraged to apply for officer training upon my return to Toronto to complete my undergraduate degree. After a rigorous application I was accepted into the program.
While in officer training at Albert Head on the west coast in 1984, I was called to a meeting with a training officer that I did not request. Ostensibly it was to discuss my course of training, but the real reason I was called to the meeting was because of allegations of co-trainees that I was a lesbian. Unbeknownst to me there was an official policy prohibiting homosexuals in the military which also required that all members report any suspicions to their superiors. The policy lumped homosexuality, bestiality and pedophilia together as unacceptable behaviour for which, the system presumed, members could be blackmailed to reveal state secrets.
I talked my way out of that meeting and I was never aware of any formal investigation into my behavior. While at a 27-year reunion in 2007, I heard from some women with whom I trained that they had all been asked about me and they had also lied at risk of their careers to protect me. I served for six years, initially as a naval control of shipping officer; but, before I left the service I became one of the first 5 women in Canada to obtain a bridge-watching certification for minor war vessels. I also worked at Maritime Command in Halifax as the assistant editor of The Trident, an internal naval publication.
During my time in the service I new many sailors who were persecuted while in service or were dishonourably released. In 1989 after my promotion, I was due for re-investigation by CSIS as I had a ‘Secret” security designation. Rather than subjecting friends and family to possible interrogation about my life, I voluntarily resigned.
This is why I strongly support the NDP motions for an apology and correction of service record.
Brenda Barnes (Whitehorse) (w) 867-667-4441; (h) 867-393-3018; email@example.com
Statement of support for the We Demand an Apology Network
May 27, 2015
In 1979, there was an investigation in Chatham NB. I was allowed to
remain in the service but my partner at that time who was posted in
Shelburne NS was dismissed. I have no clue why this happened but I believe my Major R.P. prevented my release.The investigation was awful, the first time I was taken to CFB Halifax and met by two SIU officers. For at least 3 days I was interrogated in an undisclosed area for hours at a time. Examples of the questions asked included “who is the man in the relationship? Do you like to masturbate in front of a mirror? Who takes the garbage out? Do you use a dildo? Do you hate men?” etc. There were always two SIU officers present. One had long hair and looked like a hippie and was not very nice. The other guy was clean cut and shaved, well dressed and very nice. i guess now that I think of it today, it was like a good cop/bad cop situation. I was 19 years old and I was afraid of being in that room with them for hours. Then came the lie detector test, all they did is ask questions and I answered yes or no. I didn’t believe in that machine and I never did find out the results.
The second stage was they had me see a psychiatrist in Halifax and he asked me about my family life growing up, and if I thought that being raised by a single parent could attribute to my being a lesbian as my father had died when I was 3 months old. I told him that I couldn’t see why not having a father would affect me, my sister was not gay and was married with children. The investigations by the SIU and the psychiatrist went on for months. With the SIU the investigation too place in the same place but I was not sure where as it was always night time and I didn’t know Halifax that well. It was the same types of questions but I’d have to write out my answers. At some point they wanted me to write down who I knew who was gay and they badgered me for hours into the night until I gave them names. I gave them first names only and never gave in to the constant request for second names. I no longer cared at that point I guess I was getting used to their tactics.
During one visit the psychiatrist told me that he saw nothing wrong with me and that being a lesbian was not an illness. But he also said he wasn’t in charge and that his decisions didn’t carry much weight and that I would have to see him for several months, to keep my nose clean, and to stay away from gay people if I wanted to remain in the service. I listened to him as being in the military was my dream since a child and I didn’t want to lose my job. I stopped going to the mess hall, and never went to clubs. In the mornings I did make a quick stop at the mess hall to grab my lunch box for my shift and at night I stopped at Canex for a snack to eat in my room in the barracks. On the weekends I went to my Mom’s as it was just 2 hours away. It always felt like I was being followed and it was not a good feeling being paranoid that someone was never far away spying on me. You just know when someone is following you. My colleagues would always ask me why I wouldn’t participate in activities with them and I guess they figured I was just too shy and one of them even called me anti-social and that really hurt. I was allowed to remain in the military but I lost my top secret clearance and had to leave 416 Squadron and go to work at the MSE supply (auto parts) that carried a classification of confidential.
Finally in 1980 I moved off base and shared an apartment with a friend. Then I met someone (female) and started dating. A year later, there was another investigation but this time we both got discharged from the military but not before months of being interrogated again. They said someone saw us kissing through our basement window. I was so devastated that I can’t for the life of me (till this day) remember where the investigation took place. I was just so numb and the experience was worse than the first one. Everyone on the base found out. It was not enough having the SIU follow me, my Captain at the time made it his mission to make my life a living hell. Everywhere I went on base my Captain was there; the canteen; Gym; the baseball diamond etc. One day I asked him “what is this all about, I turn around and there you are all the time”. He told me that I was a security risk and could not be left alone wandering about the base, saying that he would not have the base compromised because of “ME” and he went on to say I was a threat to our country and he would make sure I got dismissed and that he would not allow Major R.P to help me this time. Shortly after this the anonymous phone calls started, the callers would shout some nasty words and hang up. I’d walk to work and they’d drive by and also call me names, it was awful. I went to see Major R.P and the Base commander and they both said they would put an end to it but it continued until the day I was released, sometime in the 1980’s and my partner followed soon after. I have to say my Sgt. D.C. did everything to keep me in the military but he fought a losing battle. He had even put my name forward before the investigation for an advance promotion to corporal. I was so excited. Before I left the military they had a big party for me with a plaque and all but I did not attend. I just couldn’t. Sgt. D.C. delivered the plaque and told me how sorry he was.
When I cleared off base the last thing my Captain told me was “Don’t forget, when you apply for a job there might just be a note on your file and they will all know the kind a person you really are!” Anyhow, we had to move away as we were harassed all of the time and decided to move to Ottawa as it had a bilingual population and at the time that made sense to us. I got a job with the Corps of Commissionaires and my partner with the Canadian Red Cross. I moved on to Canada Post and retired after 30 years of service. My now (ex) partner is still working for the department of Health and Welfare. We went our separate ways after 25 years together and we were blessed with a son who is now 27 years old.
During these years, I often tried to get an apology but never knew how to go about it. I did speak to Svend Robinson in the early 80’s and also helped him with a written statement of my account of dismissal to help the Michelle Douglas case. I also wrote to Michel Drapeau and inquired as to how to get an apology and his response was, in my interpretation, “never going to happen” and that I would have to prove that being gay was the only reason I was dismissed (and that the DND would never admit to any wrongdoing). I had no clue on how to do that and I knew that being gay was the only reason that I was dismissed as I had done nothing wrong and I was an excellent soldier!
All of this happened over 30 years ago and not one day goes by that I don’t think about the mistreatment I experienced in the Military because I was gay. The only thing I ever wanted was to serve my country and to be told that I was a threat, well that kind of statement stays with you forever! Moreover, the countless investigations and harassment, they never go away, they are permanently fixed in your mind! I was very traumatized by the whole situation! Oddly enough, if I had the opportunity to serve again, I’d to it in a heartbeat as I LOVED being in the military! It’s in my HEART & SOUL! However, I still want an apology someday! I really want someone from the Military to tell me that they are sorry and to acknowledge that I was never a threat, that I was a good soldier and to acknowledge my good service. I do not seek a monetary settlement but I’d love my service medal to wear proudly when I stand every November 11 in respect of our lost military heroes! I know you have to serve 12 years to get that medal but it was never my choice to leave the service and I KNOW for a fact, that if I had not been dismissed for “being gay”, I’d still be a proud soldier serving my country today!
Given my experience I fully support motions M-517 and M-521. If implemented, these would be the beginning of recognizing the devoted service of Forces personnel and the wrongs that were done to them simply because of their sexual orientation.
May 23, 2015
My abbreviated naval career
By Frank Letourneau
In early 1970, I was called to the offices of the Military Police at CFB Halifax and told that enough evidence had been gathered to indicate that I was homosexual. In fact, based on questions asked of me, it became apparent that I had been under investigation and observation for about one year. I was then a 30 year old naval Lieutenant serving as the Operations Officer in a destroyer with what appeared to be prospects of a promising career in the Canadian Forces.
In view of the then existing Administrative Order addressing “sexual perversions”, countering this accusation would have resulted in the immediate removal from my ship, the downgrading of my top secret security clearance and a difficult to explain temporary posting to an insignificant position pending further investigations. As I assessed my situation, I saw this as only postponing the inevitable and running the risk of a less-than-honourable discharge from the Forces.
This led me to submitting a letter resigning my officer’s commission which was quickly processed and I was honourably released. I might add that throughout this ordeal and mental anguish I enjoyed the complete moral support of my ship’s Executive Officer, Commanding Officer (a future admiral) and the Squadron Commander.
After some thirteen years with the Canadian Forces I had to seek a new career and begin a new life.
In view of what I described above, I fully support the long overdue redress initiatives outlined in Motions M-517 and M-521. If implemented, these would be the beginning of an honourable means of recognizing the devoted service of Forces personnel like me forced into a humiliating and unnecessary termination of their career.
Frank M. Létourneau
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Phone: 902 429 2285
May 28, 2015
Statement regarding my federal career as an Economist between 1970-1985
By Paul-Émile Richard
My name is Paul-Emile Richard and I am an Acadian from New Brunswick. I am 74 years old.
After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce, a Masters Degree in Economics, as well as a year of postgraduate studies in Paris in Economics, I was employed by the federal Department of Finance as well as other departments between 1970-1985.
In 1985, my career ended abruptly as a result of systemic discrimination and my being identified as a homosexual by the RCMP. The discrimination from which I suffered took many insidious forms, for example: adverse structural reorganizations – job opportunities for which I qualified that would “disappear” from the organizational charts; sabotage – documents I had prepared for important meetings would either vanish or be expropriated from me; a hostile work environment was created, which included unreasonably bad evaluations and physical and social exclusion such as having my office situated at a great distance from the team I supported.
This homophobic treatment by the federal government totally ruined my life. It had long-term consequences on my physical and psychological health that I suffered from for many years including serious depression, extreme agoraphobia and insecurities, psychosomatic effects, anxiety and suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
In 2005, I submitted a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which was refused on the grounds that it was time-barred. This decision is seriously flawed in that it failed to consider that it was impossible for me to submit my complaint prior to 2005 because of the results of the government’s actions on my health, which is substantiated by expert medical evidence. It also ignores some of the leading jurisprudence on the issue of prescription.
Indeed, I was placed in a rather cruel catch-22 situation. In 1985, the year of my dismissal as a federal public worker, gay rights had not as yet been recognized and unions and lawyers did not defend our rights at that time. It would not be until 1995 with the Egan case and in 1998 with the Vriend case that the Supreme Court of Canada read in gay rights as being part of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, I was unable to take advantage of this first legal opportunity to act given that I was suffering from serious depression and was even suicidal at the time as a result of the way I had been so badly treated simply because I was gay.
My appeal was heard by the Federal Court and the Court of Appeal of Canada but it ruled that the Commission’s decision was reasonable on the basis that the government would suffer a prejudice because of the time delay involved and that it therefore would not be able to prepare an appropriate defense against the claim that I suffered from systemic discrimination. My lawyer, Sean McGee of the firm Nelligan O’Brien Payne, argued the reasons given by the government to support its allegation that it would not be able to properly defend itself were all hypothetical at best.
This left me no choice but to ask the Supreme Court of Canada to hear my appeal but in 2011, without providing any reasons, it refused to do so. Many eminent lawyers I have consulted believe that the Federal and Supreme Courts made an astonishing error in law by refusing to even hear my case and for allowing the government to never have to explain its discriminatory actions against LGBT members of society like myself.
By exhausting all avenues available to me to seek justice through the legal system, the last available channel open to me for further action is an appeal to the public and the political class.
And so, on Tuesday, June 2nd, I am supporting and will be present at a media conference in the National Press Gallery involving two NDP members of Parliament and Professor Gary Kinsman to inform the national media of this sad history, ask the government to assume its responsibility for it for the first time and to repair the damages caused to all those gays and lesbians who like me lost their livelihood as government employees because they were gay or lesbian. The NDP will announce measures it wants the government to take in this regard including two Motions that have been introduced into the House of Commons.
In view of what I described above, I fully support the long overdue redress initiatives outlined in Motions M-517 and M-521.
Support Statement from Martine Roy
May 28, 2015
I joined the armed forces in 1983 at the age of 19. A year and a half later, after graduating as a medical assistant I was dishonorably discharged for homosexuality. The events leading up to my discharge consisted of many hours of interrogation, including a promise that, should I confess to my “sexual perversions”, they would keep me.
I was interrogated in a little house that I didn’t even know existed on the base. I was asked very personal questions like “who did you sleep with?” and “How often do you have sex”. I felt exhausted, scared and humiliated. At that moment I lost all sense of my self-worth and self-respect. I left the interrogation with an uncertainty and fear that I had never experienced before.
I was released from the interrogation and life in the army went on as usual. Months later, after I had been transferred to the National Defence Medical Center in Ottawa. I was summoned to the office of a psychologist for an evaluation to determine if I was normal or abnormal as per the investigation of my homosexuality. I did a couple of sessions that did not go very well. Again, I did not receive any news on my investigation for months.
I was offered a new contract of 3 Years as a communication officer with Top Secret code verification, and I accepted. I was scheduled to start my course in Kingston shortly.
I was working as a pharmacist assistant the day I got the call to report to the office of the base Colonel. They asked “Do you know why you are here today?” I answered “No”. It was at this moment that I was informed that I had been dishonorably discharged for homosexuality. I had just signed a new contract? I was confused. It made no sense to me that I was being discharged for my sexual orientation!
This event changed my life, robbed me of my self-esteem, and distorted my value system. It took 15 years of intensive therapy, and the help of my family to finally find my place in society, and feel safe to be my authentic self in the workplace.
I absolutely support the NDP motions.
As a result of what happened to me in the military, I have devoted the last 15 Years of my life to the demystification of homophobia in the workplace. I do this so that organisations and corporations are not allowed to discriminate against employees for their sexual orientation or gender identity. This education process encourages these organizations and corporations to create an inclusive workplace. .Employees are measured by their skills and competences, not by their sexual identity. I strongly believe that authentic employees are more productive in their work.
The Initiative, brought forth by the NDP, is an opportunity for the Federal Government of Canada to take responsibility for the violent acts of discrimination that I and so many others lived at the hands of the Canadian Armed Forces. This accountability is the first step in the process of recognition and support for people whose careers were destroyed.
Martine Roy 514-514-246-8411; firstname.lastname@example.org
Statement of Support for the We Demand an Apology Network By Simon Thwaites
MCpl Simon Thwaites (retired sort of – I think I can claim that title after one is kicked out of the forces)
To most I was a soft spoken quiet military guy who keeps his business to himself. Imagine in the spring of 1986 being ordered to a meeting down town and finding out this was the home of the military’s Special Investigative unit (SIU). Upon arriving being hustled into a small interrogation room that had two chairs with a lie detector machine sitting on a table between them. Then the questions started. Some were extremely personal questions which in knowing elements from my medical files about being HIV positive were structured to discover if I was gay. The important catch phrase used was if one was not comfortable being gay and open about it “You could be manipulated and coerced into revealing government secrets”. Big deal I was gay and most knew about it. So how did this apply to me but that didn’t matter. To the military it became a witch hunt, wanting to know friends and other military members who were gay. Life for me changed. A possible promotion suddenly vanished as my security clearance was removed. A series of officers informed me that I had been reassigned to custodial duties in the drill hall (that meant sweeping floors) and ordered not to visit the ship I belonged to at the time. To not talk to other members about what was going on? Confusion- manipulation and stigmatization. My head spun at what was going on. In Nov. 1986 finally a medical officer tells me all this is happening because I’m under investigation for being gay. Simply going out to a gay bar downtown became a mystery novelists dream with military personal posted up high taking photographs of people entering and leaving the gay bar. You wondered some days if you were being followed. Thrown into this mix I was also struggling with being HIV positive. My life as I knew it was destroyed by the military actions.
Towards the end of my career they tried to pressure me to sign an “Administration release” form to absolve them of responsibility. This was the way most gay people were terminated but I refused and managed a medical release but with no benefits. My files were filled with misinformation, mistakes made by key people in charge which led to my Human Rights Challenge. It meant the soft spoken guy was no more – thrust into the media and spot light I became the “gay sailor” because I felt I had no other choice but to stand up and make the military accountable. In the beginning of the court hearings the focus was on the “Gay issue” and then the medical. Throughout the process I lost my car, my house my job … friends and social life. In the end I won The Human Rights Case in 1994 because of discrimination based on a disability and was awarded compensation for lost wages but no medical coverage or pension – the fact I was gay and how I was treated became a silent back story and at no time did anyone in the Military/Government ever apologize for the war of attrition waged against me, of destroying what could have been. This should never have happened.
It’s been just over 25 years since the military released me and I can still get emotional and angry over how things turned out. I start thinking back over what happened and I get animated and frustrated. I should have been able to move on to let it go but in the end there was no real closure. Yes I received a small compensation for lost wages but that vanished in seconds to pay off bills, taxes and lawyers. There was no apology or acknowledgement of what the government did. What they tried to do essentially in my case is hope that I would crawl off somewhere and die. I didn’t and I’m still waiting for that apology.
As one who has a well-documented case through the Human Rights Commission and in the public media that clearly establishes how being gay in the military had consequences in that era. That discrimination and stigma propagated by the military was a reality. It is about time that an official government apology be issued for these injustices. I fully support the Motions M-517 and M-521.
May 25, 2015