The last man to be convicted of homosexuality while it was still considered a crime in Canada will be pardoned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Everett George Klippert, a Calgary, Alberta bus driver who was arrested by police in 1965 after admitting to sexual contact with four other males during an unrelated arson investigation, is the only Canadian ever declared to be a ‘dangerous sexual offender’ solely for homosexual acts with other consenting adults.
While in prison, a Crown-appointed psychiatrist declared Klippert’s homosexuality was “incurable” and classified him as a dangerous sex offender worthy of life imprisonment. The sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada. Klippert was eventually released in 1971 — two long years after his country had finally decriminalized homosexuality.
Klippert died in 1996, but, as outlined in a press release this weekend, the newly-elected Trudeau wants to make a posthumous gesture.
‘The prime minister intends to recommend that a pardon under the authority of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy be granted posthumously to Mr. Klippert.’
‘As Canadians, we know that protecting and promoting fundamental human rights must be an imperative for governments and individuals alike, and this includes gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.’
During the late 1960s Trudeau’s father, then-Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau, promoted legislation to decriminalize homosexuality. Famously saying that “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation,” the elder Trudeau is now celebrated as a key figure in the development of LGBTQ acceptance. He was admitted to the Queer Hall of Fame in 2009, nine years after his death.
Elected in a landslide last year, Trudeau’s son has been eager to carry on his family tradition of embracing equal rights. He is scheduled to become the first Canadian prime minister to attend a gay pride parade in July.
“(T)he fight to end discrimination is not over and a lot of hard work remains,” Trudeau’s press release says. “Canadians know our country is made stronger because of our diversity, not in spite of it.”
The direction of Canadian politics could not be more divergent from their southern neighbors. In the United States, Republican presidential candidates have accepted endorsements from anti-gay clerics who want to invoke the Old Testament’s death penalty for homosexuality, pledged to support laws that enshrine ‘religious freedom’ protections for anti-gay discrimination, and attacked transgender rights. Ironically, proto-fascist Donald Trump is the most progressive candidate in the GOP field when it comes to LGBTQ issues.
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