Tag Archives: Supreme Court of Canada

Countdown: 2 months to May 14th!

The Calgary Gay History Project is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada with a special event at the New Central Library.

In November 1967, Everett Klippert was sentenced to incarceration for life for being gay by the Supreme Court of Canada. This prompted a very famous quote from then Justice Minister, Pierre Trudeau.

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December 1967: “Take this thing on homosexuality, I think the view we take here is that there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation, and I think what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code.” Source: CBC (click to watch video).

On April 16, 1969, as Prime Minister, Trudeau presented the Criminal Law Amendment Act, (Bill C-150) in the House of Commons. The bill proposed to decriminalize homosexuality and allow abortion and contraception, along with other new regulatory measures on a number of less controversial issues. Debate raged in the House. The tone was rancorous and some Members of Parliament (MPs) were particularly shocking in their remarks.

For example, Calgary MP Eldon Wooliams said: “I do not want to have this kind of debauchery in our nation. I think there is a place for a filibuster. If people tell me to get on with the job, I will say to them: ‘Do you want me to legalize sexual intercourse with the animals of Canada?”

Bill C-150’s third reading passed on May 14th, specifically altering the crimes of gross indecency and buggery in private between two consenting adults aged 21 or older. Thus began a new chapter for the gay rights movement in Canada.

We intend to honour this consequential day in Canadian history! Planning has begun for a special event at the Central Library from 6:30 – 7:45 PM! We are designing an evening which promises to be full of history, theatre, and art. We are also seeking input and participation: if you have an idea for the evening program email us.

Celebrate Freedom: see you on May 14th!

{KA}

An ode to one particular mother

{We want to give a shout out to the tremendous queer culture coming to Calgary this month: the Unison LGBTQ2 Choir Festival, May 18-21; and Fairy Tales “Twenty,” May 25 – June 2!}

When we started the Calgary Gay History Project in 2012, we had no idea the journey it would take us on. Currently, we are working with filmmaker Laura O’Grady from Spotlight Productions on a short film about the life of Everett Klippert. This week, we travelled with cinematographer Patrick McLaughlin, to Everett’s niece Katherine’s farm, three hours from Calgary. Everett requested to be buried here next to his beloved sister Leah (also Katherine’s mom): stalwart defender of Everett in his protracted tangle with the Canadian state.

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Everett Klippert’s headstone. He is buried next to his sister Leah and brother-in-law David.

It was Leah, a legal secretary in Calgary, who fought Everett’s unjust incarceration and categorization as a dangerous sexual offender.

It was Leah, who gathered the resources and expertise to challenge court decisions, pushing Klippert’s case forward to the Supreme Court.

It was Leah, who travelled to the Northwest Territories to support him at trial, and who visited him regularly in the Prince Albert Penitentiary.

It was Leah, 20 years older than Everett, who acted as a mother to Everett when they lost their mother to kidney disease in 1933. Everett was then six years old.

So on this Mother’s Day Weekend, we would propose a toast to Leah, mother to many, and mother to a better world for Canada’s LGBTQ2 community.

Klippert Family Photos 1940s

Klippert family photo: Front row: Merton Klippert (Everett’s father), Everett and Leah. Back row: Everett’s seven older brothers!

{KA}

A moment for Vriend on Monday…

April 2, 2018, marks the 20th Anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Vriend v Alberta, which made discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal across Canada.

Twenty years ago, I remember a jubilant Thursday evening. My co-workers at A-Channel did not seem to think it was such a big deal. They bemusedly tried to peel me off the ceiling so I could focus on my job, lighting the evening news. When I made it to a gay bar that night, it felt like the weekend came early, combined with Mardi Gras, Halloween and Christmas.

Vriend kiss

Delwin Vriend, right, gets a congratulatory kiss from partner Andrew Gagnon at a post-verdict rally at the Edmonton Legislature. [Photo Credit: The Canadian Press/Kevin Frayer]

Our post about the Vriend case in 2017 was one of the most read articles on the Calgary Gay History Project website to date. In honour of the 20th Anniversary, some new work has been written about the trials. Of particular note, is the accomplished Paula Simons and her work in the Edmonton Journal:

How the Vriend case established LGBTQ rights 20 years ago in Alberta — and across Canada

Gay rights pioneer Delwin Vriend didn’t set out to a be hero. He became one anyway.

From the Archives: The Vriend case is about bigotry

On March 19th, the University of Alberta hosted a forum and panel discussion for the Vriend anniversary (which Simons also moderated) called Pride or Prejudice? Celebrating LGBTQ2 RightsThe panel featured many of the legal minds working on the case in the 90s. This discussion of LGBTQ2 legal history was recorded for those of us who could not make it to Edmonton and is posted online.

The video is recommended viewing. There are many colourful recollections from the panellists that develop the story of the legal tussles encountered. Moreover there are interesting anecdotes, like Vriend v Alberta being cited internationally, such as in a recent court challenge in Belize which struck down their anti-sodomy laws in 2016.

So on Monday, take a moment to be thankful for the Vriend decision, and to all those who assisted in carrying us to victory some 20 years ago. Pause also to consider the approximately 400 million LGBTQ2 persons globally who live under the threat of criminal imprisonment, violence or even death because of who they are and who they love.

{KA}