Sexual orientation and the Canadian military

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LGBT policy in the Canadian military has changed in the course of the 20th century from being socially repressive to being socially accepted.

CFAO 19-20[edit]

In May 1967, due to the passing of the CF Reorganization Act (C-90) the Canadian Forces issued Canadian Forces Administrative Order (CFAO) 19-20, Sexual Deviation - Investigation, Medical Investigation and Disposal, which required members of the military suspected of being homosexual to be investigated and then subsequently released.[1]

Effect of social liberalization[edit]

This order was repealed in 1992, after a challenge by then CF Member Michelle Douglas, thereby allowing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to serve in the Canadian Forces free from harassment and discrimination.[2][3]

A series of provincial and territorial court decisions beginning in 2003 ruled in favour of the legality of gay marriage, and a national law to that effect was passed by Canada's parliament in 2005 by the Paul Martin Liberal government.

Openly Gay Members[edit]

Davin Hoekstra was the first to come out nationally as a gay soldier in the Spring 1998 edition of Fab National Magazine. His interview with award-winning journalist Michael Rowe garnered global attention. Davin was subsequently interviewed by Kathleen Petty on CBC Newsworld, Arlene Bynon on Global and his story appeared in newspapers across the country.[4][5]

Same-sex unions in the military[edit]

In 2004, Jason Stewart was the first member of Canada's military to marry a same-sex partner.[6] In May 2005, Canada's first military gay wedding took place at Nova Scotia's Canadian Forces Base Greenwood. Officials described the ceremony as low-key but touching. A similar wedding has since taken place between two male Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers. Today, the Canadian Forces recognizes same-sex marital and common-law unions, and affords them the same benefits offered to all married or common-law serving members.[7][8]

Participation in Pride parades[edit]

During the Divers-Cité Pride parades 1999–2002 in Montreal, a military member and an ex-military member held the banner of the informal grouping MGL, dissolved in 2004 due to the lack of participation of the military community LGBT. During the 2006 Halifax Pride parade, one member of the Canadian Forces marched in the parade, helping to carry the large pride flag. In the 2008 Toronto Pride parade, ten members of the Canadian Forces marched for the first time as a group. One month later, twelve gay and straight members of the Canadian Forces marched in the Vancouver Pride parade. Lt(N) Steven Churm said, "The message to the public is that the Canadian Forces is an employer of choice."[6] A Facebook group[9] exists where CF LGBT members network and organise as a support group, do socials, as well as plan for various Canadian Pride events dating back to his initial collaboration with Lt (N) Churm at Toronto Pride 2009.[10] In 2015, the Canadian Armed Forces were in the Edmonton Pride Parade with a LAV, Bison, and MRT.


  1. ^ Stanley, Sandra; and Scott, Wilbur;, Gays and Lesbians in the Military: Issues, Concerns, and Contrasts, pg 166, ISBN 0-202-30541-4 Published Dec 1994
  2. ^ Canada ending anti-gay army rules
  3. ^ "Canadian Military Can't Bar Homosexuals, a Court Rules". The New York Times. 4 November 1992. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  4. ^ "Magazine for Gays tells soldiers's story". The Toronto Star. 4 May 1998. p. E4.
  5. ^ "Gay soldier the first to come out of closet". The Province. 7 May 1998. p. A34.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Airbase hosts 1st military gay wedding
  8. ^ Canada's military to allow gay weddings on bases Archived 19 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^!/group.php?gid=2215599900
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 July 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • Goldberg, Suzanne B. "Open Service and Our Allies: A Report on the Inclusion of Openly Gay and Lesbian Servicemembers in U.S. Allies' Armed Forces," William & Mary Journal of Women & Law (2011) v 17 pp 547–90 online

External links[edit]