Fighting back: the 2SLGBTQ+ purge and the ongoing struggle for a more inclusive future

An interactive panel discussion featuring human rights advocates from across Canada

June 3, 2022

This event has passed.

Twenty-eight members of the LGBT Purge Fund Board and LGBTQ2+ National Monument Advisory Committee standing together and holding a rainbow flag, at the first Monument visioning session in 2019. Partially obscured.

Derek Hille

Event details

Buhler Hall – Level 1

Video: Contre‐offensive : la Purge des 2SLGBTQ+ et la lutte actuelle pour un avenir plus inclusif

The event will be primarily in English. ASL Interpretation will be provided.

From the 1950s to the 1990s, the Government of Canada systematically persecuted 2SLGBTQ+ members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the public service.

Known as “the purge”, it was an attempt to remove 2SLGBTQ+ people from the workforce, justified by arguments that they presented a threat to national security.

Devastating the lives and careers of thousands of individuals and their families, the purge was one the largest violations of human rights in Canadian history.

In the aftermath, courageous 2SLGBTQ+ Canadians led political and legal campaigns to ensure sexual orientation became a protected ground under Canadian human rights law.

Their activism led to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’ s apology to 2SLGBTQ+ Canadians in 2017. It also led to a class action settlement in 2018 that established the LGBT Purge Fund, which is working with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to develop an exhibition about this dark period in Canadian history.

Join this interactive discussion with purge survivors, leaders from the LGBT Purge Fund and from the CMHR community to learn more about the history of the purge and what is being done today to help prevent such violations from occurring again.

This gathering is also an opportunity to learn about Thunderhead, the LGBTQ2+ National Monument” to be built in Ottawa, from the Winnipeg‐based design team who won the national competition.

This event is being held as part of Fierté Canada Pride and Pride Winnipeg’ s 2022 Human Rights Conference.

The CMHR is proud to present this program in partnership with the LGBT Purge Fund.

About the participants 

Douglas Elliott is a partner in Cambridge LLP and lead counsel for the class action. He is an expert on 2SLGBTQ+ rights, constitutional law and class action lawsuits, as well as the lead author on the Just Society Report. Elliott is well known for his work on landmark cases, including Hislop v. Canada, the largest class action concerning 2SLGBTQ+ rights in Canada to date.

Svend Robinson served as federal NDP Member of Parliament from 1979 to 2004. As Canada’ s first openly gay MP, coming out in 1988, he was a member of the historic 1981 Constitution Committee and the 1985 Equality Rights Committee. Robinson worked closely with many purge survivors, including Michelle Douglas, and was appointed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’ s advisory council on the 2017 apology. He has been contracted by the LGBT Purge Fund to review documents released pursuant to the class action lawsuit and to write the history of the purge.

Riva Harrison is the Vice‐President, External Relations and Community Engagement at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Harrison’ s lifelong commitment to human rights and social justice has included advocacy for the 2SLGBTQ+ community. She was a member of a team that advanced same‐sex adoption rights in Manitoba and part of the executive that worked with the Red River College Students’ Association to create a new resource centre for 2SLGBTQ+ students on campus. As a journalist, Harrison received two prestigious Manitoba Human Rights Journalism Awards.

Haran Vijayanathan is the Director, Equity and Strategic InitiativesGrowth at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Committed to providing a voice for those who’ ve been silenced, Haran he was challenged by issues of racism and homophobia involving police treatment of missing gay Middle Eastern and South Asian men during his time as executive director of the Toronto‐based Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP). He also served as national strategic director for Fierté Canada Pride and was founder of My House: Rainbow Resources in Toronto (York region).

Please note that this program is subject to change or cancellation without notice.