Michelle Douglas

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Michelle Douglas
Born 1963
Ottawa
Nationality Canadian
Known for LGBT rights activist

Michelle Douglas (born 1963 in Ottawa, Ontario) is a Canadian human rights activist who was involved in a landmark case around lesbian and gay equality rights in the Canadian military.[1]

After graduating from Carleton University in 1985, Douglas joined the Canadian Forces in 1986, and was soon promoted to the Special Investigations Unit, which was responsible for outing suspected homosexuals. In 1988, however, she came under investigation, was transferred to another position and lost her security clearance.[2] In 1989 she was released from the forces because she was a lesbian, despite having an exemplary service record and repeatedly being at the top of her class. She was dismissed under administrative release item 5d: "Not Advantageously Employable Due to Homosexuality".[1] During her trial, Douglas reported that during the investigation she was taken to a hotel room where two men questioned her about her sexual activities. She was also prevented from seeking legal advice.[2]

Douglas subsequently launched a $550,000 lawsuit against the Department of National Defence in January 1990 where she was represented by Clayton Ruby.[2] In October 1992, just before Douglas' legal challenge went to trial, the Canadian military abandoned its policy banning gays and lesbians and settled the case.[1]

Douglas went on to be the founding president of the Foundation for Equal Families, and later served at chair of the board of The 519 Church Street Community Centre in Toronto. Since 2005, Douglas has served on the Canadian board of directors of Free the Children. She was in a relationship with journalist Irshad Manji for several years,[3] although they broke up in 2008.

A portrait of Douglas, by artist Laura Spaldin, is held by the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives' National Portrait Collection, in honour of her role as a significant builder of LGBT culture and history in Canada.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Current, May 9, 2005.
  2. ^ a b c Bindman, Stephen (26 October 1992). "MICHELLE DOUGLAS CASE: Former officer puts National Defence military policy on trial over gay rights". The Ottawa Citizen (CanWest Interactive). 
  3. ^ "A Talking Contradiction". Ryerson Review of Journalism, March 2003.
  4. ^ Inductee: Michelle Douglas. Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.