History of RCMP-2SLGBTQI+ relations
On this page, we use the acronym 2SLGBTQI+ to refer to individuals who are Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and more (except when referring to the LGBT Purge). This is consistent with language used by the Government of Canada and 2SLGTBQI+ Secretariat. Our use of 2SLGBTQI+ is not meant to confine anyone to a certain identity.
Our relationship with 2SLGBTQI+ communities within and outside the organization has at times been difficult, dating back a number of decades. This is due to our role in enforcing historically discriminatory policies, which has created lasting impacts on these communities.
As we continue our efforts to modernize and be more inclusive, we are focused on healing, growth, and building trusting relationships. That starts with acknowledging and learning from the history and experiences of 2SLGBTQI+ communities within the organization.
Some people may find it difficult to read about the history and experiences discussed on this page.
On this page
The LGBT Purge
The LGBT Purge involved systematic employment discrimination against 2SLGBTQI+ employees of the Government of Canada (based on the policies of the time). It occurred between December 1, 1955, and June 20, 1996. It affected employees of the RCMP, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and other federal departments.
These employees either self-identified as 2SLGBTQI+, or were suspected of identifying as such by their employer or colleagues. As a result, they experienced many forms of harassment and discrimination. This included being targeted, followed, investigated, interrogated, abused, and even being fired and/or imprisoned.
Because of the Purge, a generation of people reported experiencing trauma and suffering. Many endured physical or psychological harm and lived with mental health disorders, such as depression, PTSD and/or addiction.
Thousands of peoples' careers were also ruined. Many faced unemployment or were denied opportunities for promotion if they managed to keep their jobs. They were also denied their benefits, severance and pensions.
Many Purge victims also had criminal records for convictions related to sexual activity. For RCMP employees, their convictions were recorded in RCMP service records and security screening records.
CAF employees' convictions were recorded in military service/personnel records, medical files and police investigation files. For employees of other departments, their convictions were recorded in departmental personnel files.
In 2017, the Government of Canada passed Bill C-66 to address the wrongs experienced by those who were unfairly criminalized. This includes individuals with records for convictions resulting from consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners that would be lawful today.
These individuals can apply to the Parole Board of Canada for an expungement order to permanently destroy or remove their records of convictions. Families of deceased persons are also able to apply on their behalf.
Bill C-66 is not related to the LGBT Purge Final Settlement Agreement.
Class action settlement
In 2016, LGBT Purge survivors launched a nationwide class action lawsuit against the Government of Canada. Two years later, the Government reached a historic settlement to provide financial compensation to survivors, individual reconciliation and recognition measures.
These include the Canada Pride Citation, a personal letter of apology and broad-based reconciliation and memorialization measures, such as the:
- creation of the LGBT Purge Fund
- creation of a National Monument
- curation of an exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights
Of the 718 claimants, roughly 2% were RCMP members.
Read more about the Final Settlement Agreement (available in PDF only).
Prime Minister apology
In 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to all members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community who endured discrimination and injustice. This was based on their sexual orientation and based on identifying as transgender, non-binary and two-spirit. The RCMP recognizes the pain caused to many people for our role in enforcing historically unjust laws and policies.
We apologize to all those impacted by our actions, including members of our own organization and their families whose lives were negatively affected by this discrimination.
2SLGBTQI+ communities' trust in the RCMP has also been affected by the actions of other police organizations. The 1976 Olympic "clean up" in Montreal and Toronto's Operation Soap are just two examples. These and other negative interactions between 2SLGBTQI+ communities and police eroded trust across the country.
Gender-based class actions
In recent years, we have been involved in 2 other class action settlements based on gender and sexual orientation.
Merlo Davidson Settlement
The Merlo Davidson Class Action Settlement concerns gender and sexual orientation-based harassment and discrimination of women RCMP employees in the workplace. This includes women from 2SLGBTQI+ communities. It covers the period of 1974 to 2017.
In 2017, the Federal Court approved a settlement that provided for a number of ongoing change initiatives within the RCMP. The settlement also resulted in $125.4 million in compensation being paid out to 2,304 claimants and eligible family members.
As part of the settlement, the Independent Assessor for the claims process, the Honourable Michel Bastarache, published the Final Report on the Implementation of the Merlo Davidson Settlement Agreement. The report laid out the experiences of the women who filed claims.
A subsequent settlement was announced in the Tiller/Copland/Roach class action. This covered women who worked in RCMP workplaces, but who we didn't employ (e.g., municipal employees). It also concerned gender and sexual orientation-based harassment and discrimination during the period of 1974 to 2019.
A claims process similar to the one developed for Merlo Davidson took place between 2020 and 2022. Through the Tiller/Copland/Roach settlement, $20.1 million was paid in compensation to 417 claimants and eligible family members.
Did you know?
The Canadian Human Rights Act was amended in 2017 to include gender identity and expression as grounds for discrimination. It also amended the Criminal Code to extend protection against hate propaganda to any person distinguished by gender identity or expression.
Advancing equity, accountability and trust
We've made important progress in recent years to modernize as an organization to be responsive to the needs of our employees and communities. We have, and continue to, work hard to strengthen harassment prevention and resolution, address systemic barriers, modernize recruitment and onboarding, and improve leadership and development training. The creation of the Independent Centre for Harassment Resolution is just one example of the efforts we're making.
Read more about the progress we've made and the ongoing work we're doing to make meaningful change toward a more modern and inclusive organization.
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