Manitoba

'I'm going to cry': Justin Trudeau's LGBT apology long overdue, Winnipeg gay activist says

A Winnipeg gay rights activist who says he was harassed by a police officer decades ago is happy the prime minister will apologize to LGBT Canadians today.

Prime minister set to apologize Tuesday for persecution of LGBT people

Jim Kane is emotional about the apology Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to make on Tuesday. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

Jim Kane keeps a copy of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on his wall as a reminder of the fight for human rights in Canada.

He's spent decades fighting for gay rights and has mixed emotions about the apology Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to make to LGBT people on Tuesday.

"I already know that I'm going to cry, because it's an important step forward and it's long overdue," said Kane, tearing up in his Winnipeg apartment on Monday night.

"We'll finally be able to say in Canada nobody has the platinum card of charter rights, nobody has the green card of charter rights — everyone has the gold card of charter rights."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marches in the Ottawa Capital Pride parade on Aug. 27. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Trudeau is expected to deliver a formal apology in the House of Commons on Tuesday for the persecution and injustices LGBT Canadians have faced.

The apology is so important to Kane, he paid for the cost of a plane ticket to Ottawa so he could hear Trudeau deliver it.

'Long overdue'

"I think it's long overdue."

Kane said he and his friends were treated unjustly by police decades ago due in part to a gross indecency section of the Criminal Code that was used to persecute gays before 1969, when homosexual acts between consenting adults were decriminalized.

He said one of his close friends was sent to jail after getting caught holding hands with another man and Kane was intimidated by a police officer on one occasion while hanging out behind the Manitoba Legislature — a cruising site gay men would frequent.
Activists in Winnipeg, including Jim Kane, have fought for decades for gay rights. (One Gay City)

"I was told not to be in that area because it was full of perverts, queers and gearboxes," Kane said.

"Later on I learned to get a badge number and report things like that if they happened."

Kane said Trudeau's apology is an important first step and he hopes others who were involved in persecuting gays will follow suit.

He said it's the start of a healing process he hopes other gay elderly men will experience — he knows some with mental health issues because of the damage done over the years by internal homophobia.

"I know a lot of people that self-hate."

While it will be nice to hear an apology from Trudeau, it's too bad not all of his gay friends lived to see and hear it for themselves, Kane said.
Jim Kane keeps a copy of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms on his wall as a reminder of the fight for human rights in Canada. He's spent decades fighting for gay rights and has mixed emotions about the apology Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to make to LGBT people on Tuesday. 1:57

About the Author

​Austin Grabish started reporting when he was young, landing his first byline when he was just 18. He joined CBC in 2016 after freelancing for several outlets. ​​In 2018, he was part of a team of CBC journalists who won the Ron Laidlaw Award for the corporation's extensive digital coverage on asylum seekers crossing into Canada. Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca