Calgarian imprisoned for his sexuality may receive posthumous pardon
The Trudeau government has announced its plans to right a wrong from the 1960s which left a man behind bars for the better part of a decade on gross indecency convictions based solely on the fact that he admitted to being a homosexual.
In 1960, Everett George Klippert, a Calgary bus driver, was questioned by police in connection with a suspected act of arson. During the interview, Klippert answered openly the investigators questions pertaining to his sexuality.
Klippert was convicted for having sexual relations with men and declared a dangerous sexual offender, the only Canadian to be burdened with the title based on their homosexuality alone.
The Calgarian spent four years in prison for gross indecency before relocating to the North West Territories in an attempt at a fresh start at life. Klippert’s lifestyle resulted in additional charges and the Supreme Court of Canada condemned him essentially to life in prison.
The Klippert case drew outrage and, in 1967, his defence lawyer, Clyne Harridance, appeared on W5 to challenge Canada’s stance on homosexuality.
“We’ve been treating these people like criminals,” said Harridance during his W5 appearance. “I do not think they are criminals although the law, at the present time, says they are.”
Klippert unsuccessfully launched an appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada. That same year, Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau called for changes to the criminal code.
“Remember that the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation,” said Trudeau.
In 1969, Canada decriminalized homosexuality but Klippert remained imprisoned until 1971 on his convictions.
Everett Klippert passed away in 1996 from kidney disease at the age of 70.
In a statement issued to CTV on Sunday, February 28, 2016, Cameron Ahmad, press secretary for the Office of the Prime Minister addressed the potential for a posthumous pardon of Klippert’s convictions:
Though dismissed by the Supreme Court in 1967, Everett Klippert’s case was instrumental in the government’s decision to decriminalise homosexual acts between consenting adults. To honour that legacy, the Prime Minister intends to recommend that a pardon under the authority of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy be granted posthumously to Mr. Klippert. The Government also intends to review the cases of individuals who were convicted of "gross indecency" and "buggery" in past years, in order to determine if a pardon is warranted.
As Canadians, we know that protecting and promoting fundamental human rights must be an imperative for governments and individuals alike – and this includes gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. We have made great strides in securing legal rights for the LGBTQ2 community in Canada – from enshrining equality rights in the Charter to the passage of the Civil Marriage Act. But the fight to end discrimination is not over and a lot of hard work remains. Canadians know our country is made stronger because of our diversity, not in spite of it
Calgary’s only queer theatre company, Third Street Theatre, has been working on a play based on Everett Klippert’s life and the impact he had on future LGBTQ generations despite the fact he attempted to avoid the limelight, preferring to live a life without fanfare.
“Knowing that somebody that was vilified for such a long time is now about to be pardoned,” said Jonathan Brower of Third Street Theatre, “it’s one of those resilience stories that pops up and says this is the start of a new generation of understanding.”
With files from CTV's Alesia Fieldberg