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1992, October 27 – Come out and enlist!

January 27, 2010

Before 1992, homosexuals were not knowingly enrolled in the Canadian armed forces.

In 1989, Michelle Douglas was discharged from her position in the military because she was, “not advantageously employable due to homosexuality.” She challenged her dismissal on the grounds that it was in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This landmark challenge resulted in the Canadian military abandoning its discriminatory policy. This was an important advancement in the rights of the LGTBQ community and since this decision many LGTBQ have been open about their sexuality, whilst being active and dedicated members of the Canadian armed forces.

Since this decision, further advances have been made in terms of equity in the Canadian armed forces. For example, since 2005, Canadian forces chaplains have been blessing uniformed same-sex marriages and since 2008, members of the military have openly participated in Gay Pride events.

The challenge launched by Michelle Douglas resulted in major changes for LGBTQ in the armed forces and the depth of its impact is long-lasting. Other countries, such as the United States, still operate on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with regards to LGBTQ in the military and thus, this event can be seen as a step in the right direction for upholding human rights in Canada.

Michelle Douglas, pictured above, launched the legal court case that would ultimately end the discriminatory policies adopted by the Canadian Armed Forces. She continues to be an outspoken activist for gay and lesbian rights in Canada. Portrait by Laura Spaldin. CLGA National Portrait Collection.

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