From the 1950s to 1980s, the Canadian government persecuted LGBTQ2+ employees and tried to erase them from the military, the RCMP and the civil service under the guise that they were a “security risk,” an event that became known as the LGBT Purge. Those who were suspected of being homosexual were put under government surveillance, interrogated and intimidated. They were fired from their jobs. Many quit to avoid being exposed. Some committed suicide as a result. In the 1980s, victims of the Purge fought back with a class-action suit against the government that helped shed light on the systemic discrimination that members of the LGBTQ2+ community faced from the government and the rest of society. In 2017, the federal government issued a formal apology on behalf of the government and Canadian society for the treatment of members of the LGBTQ2+ community.
In this highly visual book, author Ken Setterington presents the struggle for LGBTQ2+ rights using photographs, first-person accounts and excerpts from archival documents. Significant events in the struggle include the establishment of Pride parades, the Bathhouse Raids, the decriminalization of homosexuality, the passing of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the LGBT Purge and the legalization of same-sex marriage.
While the government’s formal acknowledgement of past injustices started Canada on a better path toward equality, there is still work to be done. This book would be a welcome addition to any classroom or library’s social justice collection and will appeal to adults interested in LGBTQ2+ rights in Canada.
About the author
Ken Setterington is a librarian, storyteller, author and reviewer. He was named the first Children and Youth Advocate for Library Services for the Toronto Public Library. He has been an active storyteller and published retellings of The Snow Queen and The Wild Swans. In 2003, with co-author Deidre Baker, he wrote A Guide to Canadian Children’s Books. He lives with his partner in Toronto.