Tag Archives: Edmonton Journal

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}

 

 

Klippert Month – Finale

In exactly one week (November 7th) we will have arrived at the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court verdict in Klippert v. The Queen. In the ruling, Everett George Klippert was declared a dangerous sexual offender for having consensual gay sex. It was confirmed that he should be incarcerated for life to protect both himself and Canadian society.

In this final of four posts, I would like to explore the role of Canadian media in bringing his case forward to the court of public opinion. Newspapers across the country gave the Klippert case a good airing with the bulk of editorials condemning the decision.

In fact Pierre Trudeau’s famous quote:

“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.”

was a borrowed phrase from the Globe and Mail’s editorialist Martin O’Malley. (Trudeau thanked O’Malley for the quotation.)

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Pierre Trudeau’s 1967 media scrum with the “bedrooms” quote. Click to watch. Source: CBC Archives.

Sidney Katz, who had researched and written about the gay community extensively, wrote a notable column in the Toronto Star titled: “Gentle George Klippert – must he serve LIFE?” His second article quoted the dismayed reactions of many Toronto homosexuals.

The Winnipeg Free Press editorialized: “It is possible to deplore such activity without treating its practitioners as if they were monsters.” Even the Calgary Albertan (now the Calgary Sun) opined that “the spectre of a possible life sentence seems to us a little severe.”

The only big city newspaper in Canada to react in support of the decision was the Edmonton Journal whose position was against homosexual law reform citing its belief in the tendency of homosexuals to prey on the young.

The Montreal Gazette described Klippert “as the most publicized homosexual in history.”

The irony, of course, is that Everett was quickly forgotten and languished in jail for four more years. Even today, people remember Pierre Trudeau’s famous quote but do not connect it to homosexuality and its decriminalization. Many are shocked to learn that homosexuals were ever prosecuted in Canada in the first place.

Everett Klippert became a symbol of injustice and the trigger for law reform in Canada. Despite his life story being featured in every daily newspaper of note, he was not a subject of the nation’s mercy. Not really.

The point of Klippert month was to remember the person: not just the court case; not just the symbol; and not just the political wedge issue he represented in 1967.

He was a Calgarian.

He enjoyed work.

He was honest to a fault.

He had a family who loved him.

And he was gay.

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Everett George Klippert. Source: Family Photo.

{KA}