'No place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation'

Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau explains why his Omnibus Bill of 1967 seeks to decriminalize homosexuality.

1967 Omnibus Bill addresses abortion, divorce, homosexuality in Canadian law

"There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation"

1 year ago
Duration 2:19
Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau speaks with reporters about his Omnibus Bill. Aired on Feb. 21, 1967.

Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau's 1967 Omnibus Bill in the House of Commons called for massive changes to the Criminal Code of Canada.

It proposed to revise abortion laws, legalize lotteries, restrict gun ownership and allow police breathalyzer checks. But the section that got the most attention was its proposal to decriminalize "homosexual acts" performed in private.

"It's bringing the laws of the land up to contemporary society," says Trudeau, explaining the bill.

"Take this thing on homosexuality. The view we take is, there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation. What's done in private between adults doesn't concern the Criminal Code."

'The most extensive revision of the Criminal Code' in years

The other controversial parts of Trudeau's bill concern revisions to abortion laws, making it legal for women to end a pregnancy if a committee of three doctors agrees it threatens her mental, emotional or physical well-being.

The bill also calls for the legalization of lotteries, new gun ownership restrictions and would allow police to perform breathalyzer tests on suspected drunk drivers if they have reasonable and probable cause.

Trudeau made the "bedrooms of the nation" phrase famous but it was actually coined by the Globe and Mail's Martin O'Malley. Trudeau thanked him for the quotation.

Canada's first Criminal Code was adopted in 1892. Trudeau called his Omnibus Bill "the most extensive revision of the Criminal Code since the 1950s" and believed it brought "the laws of the land up to contemporary society."

Contrary to popular belief, the bill did not attempt to decriminalize homosexuality, but instead established a distinction between public and private sexual acts.

The bill only stated that certain sexual acts between consenting adults aged 21 years or older, when performed in private, were legal. The presence of more than two people made such acts "public" and therefore still considered illegal.

Trudeau's Omnibus Bill challenges Canada's 'sacred cows'

4 years ago
Duration 2:52
Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau defends the amendments he wants to make to the Criminal Code.