The commemorative edition of Canada's well-known "loonie" will feature a design recognizing the 50th anniversary of our northern neighbors' decriminalization of homosexuality in 1969.
Marilyn Drew Necci | January 4, 2019
In a move that remains unthinkable here in the United States, our neighbors to the north have created a new dollar coin that will commemorate the 50th anniversary of an important milestone in civil rights for LGBTQ Canadians. The coin marks the passage in 1969 of an amendment to Canada’s Criminal Code that decriminalized homosexuality for Canadian adults.
“There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation. What’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code,” said Pierre Trudeau. Trudeau, who was at the time serving as Canada’s Justice Minister, an executive cabinet position roughly analogous to the United States’ Attorney General, introduced the Criminal Code amendments in question. Trudeau later went on to become Canada’s prime minister.
Today, it is Trudeau’s son, Justin Trudeau, who holds the position of Prime Minister in Canada. During the younger Trudeau’s time in office, Canada has taken further steps in favor of LGBTQ rights, specifically apologizing and allocating over 100 million Canadian dollars to victims of the Canadian government’s attempts to purge LGBTQ people from government positions in the early 60s.
The rather egregious Cold War-era campaign was actually driven by a machine, invented by Canadian psychologist Frank Robert Wake, that could supposedly detect homosexuality. The Canadian government’s attempts to push LGBTQ people out of their jobs, through use of the “fruit machine” (that’s seriously what it was called) and through other means didn’t come to an end until the early 90s.
“It is with shame and sorrow and deep regret for the things we have done that I stand here today and say: We were wrong,” Justin Trudeau said in a speech to Canada’s House of Commons in 2017. “It is my hope that in talking about these injustices, vowing to never repeat them, and acting to right these wrongs, we can begin to heal.”
The healing has been somewhat encouraged by the creation of the new dollar coin. The design itself has not been released, nor has the name of the designer. Apparently this is being done so that the coin will make the biggest possible splash upon release. However, a recently-released cabinet order describes the design as a “stylized rendering of two overlapping human faces within a large circle, the left half of the left face in front view and the right face in profile facing left, the two faces forming one whole face in front view composed of two eyes with eyebrows, a nose, a mouth and two ears with a small hoop earring on the left ear.”
The new Canadian dollar coin goes into production soon, and we should be seeing the new design before too long. If it shows up in your change from Starbucks, something has seriously gone wrong — after all, it’s the currency of another country, and not legal tender here. But rest assured, it’ll be all over social media the second anyone gets ahold of one. And once we see it on social media, we’ll share it with you here.