April 23, 2019
April 23, 2019 9:03 PM EDT
The Royal Canadian Mint is unveiling a new commemorative loonie today, shown in a handout photo, meant to mark what it calls a key milestone for lesbian, gay, transgender, queer and two-spirited people in the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Royal Canadian Mint MANDATORY CREDIT ORG XMIT: CPT117
There are LGTBQ2 activists who say the new one dollar coin commemorates a myth that gay rights have reached equality in Canadian society.
Released by the Royal Canadian Mint on Tuesday, the Loonie shows two overlapping faces and the dates 1969 and 2019 — meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality.
While its intention was to symbolize gay rights, it has instead sparked a backlash in segments of the LGBTQ2 community.
Critics say the decriminalization of gay sex for those over the age of 21 was dressing as gay relations, and say those in the community were still targeted by the police and courts — including the gay bath house raids which went on until the 1980s.
Historian Tom Hooper from York University, a member of the Anti-69 movement opposed to the new coin, says decriminalization didn’t stop gay persecution.
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The laws still contained exception clauses to the offences of gross indecency and buggery that were not repealed, allowing gays to still be targeted.
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“No provisions related to homosexuality were removed from the Criminal Code in 1969,” Hooper said.
“This merely recognized the obvious — the state did not have the resources to police the bedrooms of the nation.”
Things actually got worse after 1969, says Anti-69 organizer and historian Gary Kinsman.
“Rather than people being able to love who they wanted to love, charges for consensual homosexual sex dramatically escalated after the 1969 reform,” Kinsman said.
“Those under a discriminatory age of consent set at 21 remained criminalized. These included not only gross indecency but many other provisions in the Criminal Code, including indecent acts, vagrancy, obscenity and bawdy houses.”
Long-time gay advocate and activist Rev. Brent Hawkes is best friends with Anti-69 organizers and couldn’t disagree with them more, saying “both sides of the coin has an important truth.”
While being gay was indeed decriminalized, he said — it wasn’t legitimized.
“It was just one piece along the way but not a big hug for the gay community. The rights struggle existed before 69 and we aren’t there yet. This (coin) does recognize 50 years of progress and activism and that is worthy,” Hawkes said.
“Still, it was a narrow but symbolic change.”