Ottawa

NCC to consider monument to victims of 'LGBT Purge'

The National Capital Commission will formally consider a proposal Thursday for a national monument to members of the LGBT community who for decades were ousted from the federal public service because of their sexual orientation.

Thousands of public servants lost jobs between 1950s and 1990s due to sexual orientation

Public servants across Canada lost their jobs as part of the 'LGBT Purge,' which lasted from the 1950s into the 1990s. (One Gay City)

Latest

  • The NCC approved a location near Wellington Street and the Portage Bridge.
  • A design contest will be held later this year.
  • The federal government will announce the winning design in the summer of 2021.

The National Capital Commission will formally consider a proposal Thursday for a national monument to members of the LGBT community who for decades were ousted from the federal public service because of their sexual orientation.

The Ottawa monument will honour public servants who lost their jobs from the 1950s into the 1990s, a period known as the LGBT Purge.

"It's something I don't think anyone can really understand unless they go through a discrimination at work that has nothing to do with their skills," Martine Roy told Ottawa Morning Tuesday.  

In 1981, when Roy was 19 and in training to be a medical assistant with the Canadian Armed Forces at CFB Borden, she was arrested and interrogated for hours about her sexual orientation. In December 1984, she was dishonourably discharged from the military.

Martine Roy sits with two letters from the Canadian Armed Forces. One is her dishonourable discharge, and the second — sent more than 30 years later — offers her an apology. (Radio-Canada)

"There was a law, black and white, all federal but mostly in the army, where I was, that was saying that if you were homosexual [it] is the same as incest or rape," said Roy, chair of the LGBT Purge Fund, which has raised $8 million for the monument. 

The fund was created following a class-action lawsuit launched by members of the military, RCMP and civil service.

While the federal government apologized to LGBT public servants in 2017 and has given more than $100 million in compensation to victims, Roy said it took a decade of therapy for her to regain her confidence and overcome her fear.

Monument to honour LGBT Purge victims 'deeply meaningful' for the community, advocate says

CBC News Ottawa

1 year ago
0:32
Michelle Douglas, executive director of the LGBT Purge Fund, says the monument will honour public servants who lost their jobs during a period known as the LGBT Purge. It is planned for an area near Wellington Street and the Portage Bridge.  0:32

"We were not proud. We were hiding," Roy said. "Many of us never came out ... of the closet. Some killed themselves."

On Thursday, the NCC's board of directors will consider a proposal for land allocation for the monument. Three sites in downtown Ottawa are in the running. 

Once a site is chosen, the Department of Canadian Heritage will launch a design competition and seek public input on proposals.

The board of directors meeting begins at 11 a.m. at NCC headquarters on Elgin Street. It is open to the public.

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