moved for leave to introduce Bill C-600, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act (homosexual activities).
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce a bill that is long overdue.
This bill, an act to amend the Criminal Records Act in relation to homosexual activities, is meant to expunge the mention of decriminalized lesbian and gay-identified sexual acts from criminal records. Such acts should have never been the basis of criminal prosecution and conviction. It is time to redress this matter.
Canada decriminalized homosexual activities many years ago. However, people are still left to cope with the burden and the shame of having a criminal record for these activities.
Society has evolved. We no longer consider consensual sexual expression to be matters for the Criminal Code, yet the consequences of past criminal accusations and convictions continue to haunt certain individuals. When seeking employment, one must often declare if one has a criminal record. Employment can be, and likely has been, refused on the basis of an individual's sexual expression.
A great deal of progress has been made in recent years in the area of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
Unfortunately, politicians have too often refrained from doing anything and have passed the buck to the courts.
Before us is a case the courts would have difficulty redressing. This is a collective harm imposed on a discriminated group. To offer redress, we owe it to those who are found guilty by the terms of discriminatory anti-sexual laws no longer in place to be granted more than just a pardon. This bill would expunge their records. Never again would these individuals need to fear that their unwarranted criminal record could cost them their jobs, bar them from travel, or cause them shame.
This issue has been pending for far too long. It is time to take action.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)