Government of Canada takes another step towards righting historically unjust convictions
March 7, 2023
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting and promoting fundamental human rights, and taking necessary steps towards righting historical discrimination faced by Canadians.
As part of that commitment, the Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, today announced that the Government of Canada has enabled convictions under the Criminal Code for abortion-related, bawdy house and indecency-based offences to be eligible for expungement.
The Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act, which came into effect on June 21, 2018, created a procedure to allow for the permanent destruction (expungement) of historically unjust records of convictions. The Act was specifically designed to enable the addition of new offences to the Act’s Schedule by the Governor in Council through an Order.
Thirty-five years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down unconstitutional offences that restricted access to abortion. In recognition of this historically unjust criminalization, those convicted of abortion-related offences are now eligible for expungement. This will include the convictions of individuals who sought an abortion and the medical practitioners who, at great personal risk, stood up for the right to choose.
Additionally, offences relating to bathhouses, nightclubs and swingers clubs, venues which are largely considered to be safe spaces for 2SLGBTQI+ communities, have been added to the list of those eligible for expungement. These previously criminalized venues resulted in owners, employees and patrons to be convicted under the Criminal Code for bawdy house and other indecency-based offences. This is another step towards correcting the unjust application of these laws against 2SLGBTQI+ communities. Addressing further historically unjust offences also fulfills a key commitment in the Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan and will contribute to advancing rights and equality for 2SLGBTQI+ people in Canada.
“Today’s additions of abortion-related, bawdy house and indecency-based offences to the Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act represent yet another important and necessary step towards righting historical and systemic discrimination faced by many Canadians.”
- The Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety
“Canadians deserve non-discriminatory policies that put their safety first, which is why the Government of Canada recognizes that past laws and regulations were unjust and compromised the freedoms of 2SLGBTQI+ communities and women. This is another crucial step in achieving the goals set out in the Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan – by continuing to promote human rights and encourage the development of inclusive federal policies, programs, and laws.”
- The Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth
There is no fee to apply for an expungement order.
Applicants will need to provide evidence that the conviction meets certain criteria. Given the historical nature of the offences, sworn statements/solemn declarations may be accepted as evidence if applicants have demonstrated that court and police records are not available.
If the person is deceased, an appropriate representative, such as a family member or a trustee, can apply on their behalf.
Office of the Minister of Public Safety
Public Safety Canada
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