1960s: Beginnings of Change

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Prison Cell (Source: www.everystockphoto.com)

It was ILLEGAL to be HOMOSEXUAL prior to 1969.

Up until the late 1960s it was illegal in Canada to be homosexual. Men accused of homosexual activities could be charged of sex offences and face years of imprisonment.

In 1965 Everett Klippert was questioned by police as a part of an arson investigation and during the interrogation admitted to having sexual relations with other men. Mr. Klippert was then charged as a dangerous sex offender and was sentenced to an indefinite term in prison. When Klippert appealed, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the ruling. Listen to a CBC news clip covering the appeal decision from 1967 here.

In 1971 Klippert was released from prison after a change in the homosexual law. Why did the law change? 

NO place for the STATE in the BEDROOMS of the nation”
                                            
                            – Pierre Elliot Trudeau

In 1968-69 the Criminal Law Amendment Act was introduced. Bill C-150 was an omnibus bill that sought to greatly reform Canada’s Criminal Code by proposing reforms such as allowing abortion and contraception as well as gun and lottery control.  When it was passed in the summer of 1969, homosexuality was decriminalized.

The passing of Bill C-150 created a further separation of church and state from a humans rights point of view but the debates that came out of the decriminalization of homosexuality brought out fears that it would lead to sanctioning marriage.

If you were GAY or LESBIAN in Canada in the 1950s and 1960s you were perceived as a THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY.

National Defence officials and the RCMP systematically identified gay and lesbian  individuals by employing surveillance and park sweeps to round up gay people and then threatening to lay criminal charges if they did not revel the names of other gay individuals. They used phone taps, followed people, and collected photos, and then used the information to purge people from public service and military jobs.

Kinsman Book (Source: UBC Press)The campaign extended far beyond the scope of the civil service to a research project to identify homosexuals and lesbians dubbed the ‘fruit machine’. The result of the campaign to purge the civil service of gays and lesbians produced the heterosexism which still exists in Canada.

Gary Kinsman has written extensively on this subject. Information about his publications can be found here.



 

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