Canada has expunged historic indecency and anti-abortion laws targeting women and the LGBTQ community, the government said on Tuesday (March 7), in a criminal justice system reform that will allow people convicted under such offences to clear their records.
The repealed laws had targeted women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals’ access to abortion as well as to bathhouses, nightclubs and swinger clubs, considered to be safe spaces for queer communities.
“Canadians deserve non-discriminatory policies that put their safety first,” Marci Ien, Minister for Gender Equality and Youth said in the statement.
She said the government recognises that past laws and regulations were unjust and compromised the freedoms of LGBTQ communities and women.
By repealing these laws, people with previous convictions can 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.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have used indecency laws to raid gay nightclubs and bathhouses across Canada, charging customers, employees and performers. In 1981, some 286 men were charged under these outdated laws in Toronto for being at a bawdy house.
The anti-abortion law has been outdated since 1988 when the Supreme Court of Canada named the law unconstitutional.