Lawyers seeking compensation for people let go from the Canadian Armed Forces and the civil service for being gay are merging three class action lawsuits into one, hoping to find strength in numbers.
Martine Roy is one of three named plaintiffs leading the proposed lawsuit against the Government of Canada. She's from Montreal, but another is from Halifax.
“I was told, ‘You're being dishonorably discharged,’” says Roy, “and I said ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Because you're a homosexual.’”
In total, there are now more than 100 people from across the country who say they were let go from the Canadian Armed Forces or the civil service because they are gay.
“The military police actually had a department called the Special Investigation Unit, whose job was to hunt down, root out, identify, interrogate and eventually terminate anyone that they believed to be, anyone who's admitted to be or suspected to be homosexual,” says class action lawyer John McKiggan.
The lawsuit hasn’t yet been certified in court, but McKiggan says he’s very confident that will happen.
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Canada in 1969, but McKiggan says the military only stopped investigating gay people in 1993.
McKiggan says the suit could eventually include thousands of people. They want an apology, recognition and public education.
“The average Canadian citizen has no idea what gays and lesbians in service of our country had to put up with,” McKiggan says.
They're also asking for compensation, which McKiggan says could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. But he says no amount of money will change this dark chapter in Canadian history.
The Department of National Defence says it is currently working on a response, but it has not yet been received by CTV News.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kayla Hounsell.