The Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBT Issues ignores impact of the 69 reform on Indigenous people, lesbians, and reproductive rights.
Throughout 2019, the Canadian government is funding celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the ‘decriminalization’ of homosexuality.
In a recent interview for NEWNOWNEXT , Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault stated, “The government of the day removed a provision in the criminal code that prevented people from loving who they wanted to love.” He added that the “1969 decriminalization of homosexuality is a big milestone… full stop.”
Anti-69, a forum taking place this weekend in Ottawa, brings together activists, community members and scholars who question the mythologies surrounding this reform. Anti-69 includes films, plenaries, panels and discussions.
Forum co-organizer and historian Tom Hooper responded to Boissonnault’s claim, saying “this is a demonstrably false statement, shouldn’t the special advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBT Issues know better?” The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-9, otherwise known as the Omnibus Bill, added an exception clause to the offenses of buggery and gross indecency, but these were not repealed.
“No provisions related to homosexuality were removed from the Criminal Code in 1969, full stop,” said Hooper.
The exception clause allowed two adults 21 years of age and older to commit acts of buggery or gross indecency provided they were in a strict definition of private. “Milestone? This merely recognized the obvious: the state did not have the resources to police the bedrooms of the nation,” Hooper added.
Fellow Anti-69 organizer and gay historian Gary Kinsman stated, “rather than people being able to love who they wanted to love, charges for consensual homosexual sex dramatically escalated after the 1969 reform. Those under a discriminatory age of consent set at 21 remained criminalized. This included not only gross indecency but many other provisions in the Criminal Code, including indecent acts, vagrancy, obscenity, and bawdy houses.”
Anti-69 has a broad focus. Usually the focus on the 1969 reform is only about male homosexuality. Anti-69 will examine the connections between the 1969 White Paper on the extinguishing of Indigenous sovereignty and the 69 reform; the lack of impact on lesbians whose oppression was not organized through these sections of the Criminal Code; and the major lack of access for women to abortion services as a result of the limitations of the 69 reform.
Speakers at the media conference this Friday include Tom Hooper who is a historian of the 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids and a member of the organizing committee for Anti-69; Laura Hall who grew up on Anishinaabe territory in N'Swakamok (Sudbury), raised by a Mohawk mother and English/Canadian father and who emphasizes the importance of Indigenous Knowledge and the influences of Haudenosaunee knowledge with an emphasis on intersectionality and social and environmental justice; and Sarah Rodiman, PhD, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Ottawa.
More questions about 1969? See the Frequently Asked Questions: www.anti-69.ca/faq