Canadian government and former federal employees reach settlement in 'gay purge'

The Canadian government and members of the military and other federal agencies affected by the so-called gay purge have reached a proposed settlement in a class-action lawsuit launched in late 2016.

Settlement comes after ex-federal government employees launched class-action lawsuit in late 2016

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marches in the Ottawa Capital Pride parade on Aug. 27, 2017. The apology last November from Trudeau for past state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBTQ people was welcome news for those who had been calling for such an expression of regret. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

The Canadian government and members of the military and other federal agencies affected by the so-called gay purge have reached a proposed settlement in a class-action lawsuit launched in late 2016.

The proposed settlement requires approval by the Federal Court before any money is paid out to affected members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP and employees of the Federal Public Service whose careers were sidelined or ended due to their sexual orientation.

But it's expected that several thousand people, who were investigated, sanctioned and sometimes fired from 1955-1996, will be eligible for the financial compensation.

An agreement in principle in the court action emerged last Nov. 24, just days before the government delivered a sweeping apology for discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered the historic apology in the House of Commons on Nov. 28, 2017.

Speaking to a packed and emotional chamber, Trudeau expressed shame, sorrow and deep regret to the civil servants, military members and criminalized Canadians who endured discrimination and injustice based on their sexual orientation.

"You are professionals. You are patriots. And above all, you are innocent. And for all your suffering, you deserve justice, and you deserve peace," he said.

"It is our collective shame that you were so mistreated. And it is our collective shame that this apology took so long – many who suffered are no longer alive to hear these words. And for that, we are truly sorry."

The apology comes with $145 million, which includes $110 million for compensation for LGBTQ civil servants whose careers were sidelined or ended because of their sexuality, and $15 million for historical reconciliation, education and memorialization efforts. 

The Federal Court will hear submissions about the approval of the proposed settlement on June 18 and 19 in Ottawa.