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Legislation, apology coming for past wrongs against LGBTQ: Trudeau

The Pride flags fly on Parliament Hill following a ceremony with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, on June 14, 2017.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Liberal government will introduce legislation later this year to erase past convictions for sexual activity with a same-sex partner, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday as multi-coloured flags were raised on Parliament's west lawn.

The legislation would add to reforms already in the works to atone for the damage caused to thousands of Canadians convicted of gross indecency for committing homosexual acts.

Egale, a national organization that advocates for the rights of sexual minorities, handed the government a report last June that recommended those convictions be expunged, pardoned or somehow stricken from the records of those convicted.

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Before 1969, same-sex acts between consensual adults were considered unlawful.

"Our government will be moving forward with a process for the expungement of criminal convictions for Canadians who were unjustly convicted of a crime simply for who they were and who they loved," Trudeau said as dozens of people gathered for the announcement cheered.

Trudeau also reaffirmed the commitment his government made last month to apologize for the wrongs of the past committed against gay, lesbian and transgendered Canadians.

The prime minister made the announcement on Parliament Hill after he and two of his cabinet colleagues, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, raised the Pride, transgender Pride, and Canada 150 Pride flags.

Sporting rainbow-coloured socks for the occasion, Trudeau said his government is committed to acknowledging and addressing historical injustices experienced by Canadians for expressing their gender identity.

"We will acknowledge and apologize for the role played by legislation, programs and policies in the historical discrimination faced by (LGBTQ2) Canadians," Trudeau said.

"I believe that it's essential to make amends for past wrongs, not to simply gloss over them."

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The government is already moving to delete discriminatory Criminal Code provisions regarding consensual sexual activity that have been deemed unconstitutional.

Bill C-39 is currently at first reading stage in the House of Commons after being introduced in March.

The Senate is also examining Bill C-16, which would add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination under both the Criminal Code and Canadian Human Rights Act.

Egale also recommended the government examine whether and how to compensate people who suffered past discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

Trudeau made no mention of compensation as he made his announcement.

Wednesday marked the second time in as many years that Trudeau raised the Pride flag on Parliament Hill.

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