Lawsuit against Forces alleges discrimination against gays and lesbians

A Canadian flag patch is seen on a soldier's uniform at 426 squadron, CFB Trenton in Trenton, Ont., on Sept. 15, 2012. A lawsuit has been launched against Ottawa alleging discrimination based on a former Canadian Forces member's sexual orientation. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

A former member of the Canadian Forces has launched a lawsuit against Ottawa over alleged discrimination based on her sexual orientation.

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Lawyer John McKiggan says in the statement of claim, which has not been proven in court, that between the 1950s and 1990s the Canadian government engaged in a campaign to identify, harass and purge lesbians and gays from the Armed Forces.

The lawsuit, submitted on Tuesday, spans the years 1969 to 1995 and applies to anyone who served in Atlantic Canada.

It names Nova Scotia resident Alida Satalic as the representative plaintiff in the class action, saying the former postal clerk who is a lesbian was mistreated and harassed.

It says she was repeatedly interrogated by investigation units on the pretext of security screenings, and was asked about her sexual relationships in detail.

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The claim says she dropped out of the military 1989 after learning she had no career prospects, re-enrolled in 1993 and then left again years later.

According to court documents, Satalic joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1981 at Canadian Forces Base Cornwallis in Deep Brook, N.S., and served at three bases.

It says after she told investigators about her sexual orientation, Satalic was given the option of staying in the military with no further training or promotions, or a release from service as “Not Advantageously Employable.”

She accepted the release.

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The statement of claim says Satalic’s career, earnings and pension all suffered.

An email from a Canadian Armed Forces official said DND is aware of the lawsuit and is reviewing the details to determine its next steps.

The lawsuit is claiming $100 million for the federal government’s breach of duty of care, fiduciary duty and violation of charter rights, plus a further $50 million in punitive damages.

In wider allegations, the lawsuit says a special security team created in 1946 harassed known homosexuals until the mid-1990s, long after Canada decriminalized homosexual sex in 1969.


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