Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green lauded the federal government's intention to pardon posthumously a Pine Point mine worker sent to prison in the 1960s for being gay, in her member's statement in the legislative assembly Monday.
The prime minister's office recently announced in a statement that it intends to recommend Everett George Klippert be pardoned, crediting his case with being instrumental in Canada's decision to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults.
Klippert was a mechanic at the mine, which was located east of Hay River. In 1965, he was suspected of involvement in a fire at the mine. He was questioned by RCMP and cleared of involvement in the fire, but admitted to having consensual sexual relations with four men.
He was charged and convicted for gross indecency. A Crown-appointed psychiatrist declared his homosexuality incurable, and a judge subsequently declared him a dangerous sexual offender and he was jailed indefinitely. The case eventually went to the Supreme Court of Canada, where the sentence was upheld, but the court recommended the legislation be reviewed.
Green was moved to tears as she recalled Klippert's story and the legal changes that ensued over the past 50 years.
"I am proud to be the first woman married to a woman elected to this legislature," she said.
"All of this started with Everett Klippert. I am grateful to him for being the catalyst of these changes and join in congratulating the Government of Canada in righting this historic wrong."
Klippert was released from jail in 1971 and returned to his hometown of Calgary. He died of kidney disease in 1996.
The Pine Point mine closed in 1987 and its town site was dismantled.
The prime minister's office says the Liberal government also intends to review the cases of other people convicted of gross indecency for possible pardons.