Canada repeals historic laws targeting women, LGBTQ community

Toronto: Canada has expunged historic anti-abortion laws targeting women and indecency laws targeting in the LGBTQ community, as part of a criminal justice system reform that will allow people convicted under such offences to clear their records.

Some of the repealed laws had targeted lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals’ access to bathhouses, nightclubs and swinger clubs, considered to be safe spaces for queer communities.

Marci Ien, Canada’s minister for women and gender equality, speaks during a press conference in Ottawa, Ontario, last year.Credit:Bloomberg

“Canadians deserve non-discriminatory policies that put their safety first,” Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth said in the statement.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have used indecency laws to raid gay nightclubs and bathhouses across the country, charging customers, employees and performers. In 1981, some 286 men were charged for being at a brothel in Toronto.

The anti-abortion law has been outdated since 1988 when the Supreme Court of Canada named the law unconstitutional.

Ien said the government recognised that past laws and regulations were unjust and compromised the freedoms of LGBTQ communities and women.

People with previous convictions will now be able to apply for an expungement order for free under the 2018 Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act, which allows for permanent destruction of “historically unjust records of conviction”.

Applicants will need information regarding the conviction to meet certain criteria. If the person convicted has passed away, a family member or trustee may apply on their behalf.


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