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UNB researchers uncover untold stories of gay and lesbian military members

Author: Communications

Posted on Jun 2, 2015

Category: In the Media , UNB Homepage , myUNB , UNB Fredericton , UNB Saint John

After decades of research, University of New Brunswick psychology professor Carmen Poulin and Lynne Gouliquer honorary research associate at UNB have uncovered a piece of Canadian military history that has led a group of researchers to Ottawa today to seek justice for thousands of LGBT Canadians and their families.

An anti-LGBT national security purge from the 1950s until the 1990s involved the surveillance of thousands of LGBT people and the destruction of the careers and livelihoods.

Poulin says she and Dr. Gouliquer have spent more than a decade studying the affects this government campaign has on LGBT Canadians—particularly military service members.

“People who were suspected to be homosexual were watched, followed, interrogated and purged from their jobs,” said Dr. Poulin. “Research indicates that this campaign also resulted in deaths. We spoke with the sister of a discharged soldier who talked about her brother being traumatized before committing suicide. In an interview, she said they (the Canadian military) made him believe he was a pervert and that he could never be trusted.”

Some people were forced to flee the country, and some people simply stopped having sex.  The researchers found that these campaigns forced many LGBT people into the closet and into living a double life.

“We embarked on this research because we wanted to tell the untold stories of gay and lesbian Canadian military members and their families and get a better understanding of how the military responds and responded to homosexuality and sexual orientation,” said Dr. Poulin.

Besides uncovering a piece of Canadian military history that is now documented, Drs. Poulin and Gouliquer are among a team of researchers who have formed the We Demand An Apology Network.

The group of researchers held a press conference today on Parliament Hill to ask the Canadian government to apologize to all who were directly affected by the national security purge campaigns and indicate that the Canadian state will not allow anything like this to happen again.

Dr. Poulin says this is an important step in opening the door for recognition and support for the thousands of people, whose lives and careers were harmed by these government policies.

Media Contact: Natasha Ashfield