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Expungement of historically unjust convictions

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Historically, Canada unjustly convicted and imposed criminal records on individuals for engaging in consensual sexual activity between same-sex partners that would be lawful today.

On November 28, 2017, the Government of Canada introduced legislation – Bill C-66, the Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act– to put into place an expungement process to permanently destroy the records of these unjust convictions.

Convictions under the Criminal Code, as well as convictions under the National Defence Act, will be eligible for permanent destruction.

Who can apply

Individuals convicted of an offence listed in the legislation are eligible to submit an application to the Parole Board of Canada. The full list of offences can be found on the Parliament of Canada’s LEGISInfo website.  

If the individual is deceased, an appropriate representative such as a close family member, common law partner, or trustee, can apply on their behalf.

Eligibility criteria and application process

The Parole Board of Canada will begin accepting applications once the legislation has received Royal Assent.

There will be no cost for an individual to apply to have their record destroyed.

Applicants will need to provide evidence that the conviction meets certain criteria. For some offences, required evidence could include proof that all people involved in the sexual activity had consented and were at least 16 years old or subject to a ‘close-in-age’ defence under the Criminal Code. Given the historical nature of the offences, sworn statements may be accepted as evidence if applicants have demonstrated that court or police records are not available.

Destruction of records

If the Parole Board of Canada orders the expungement, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will destroy any record of the conviction in its custody and will notify other federal departments or agencies that may have records of the conviction to do the same.

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