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LGBTQIA2S+ In The Canadian Military: 25 Years Post Anti-Homosexuality Policy

lgbtqia2s-in-the-canadian-military-25-years-post-anti-homosexuality-policy

Researcher bios and how their research backgrounds relate to this study

Dr. Carmen Poulin and Dr. Lynne Gouliquer are feminist scholars with decades of experience conducting interdisciplinary research on the experiences of marginalised groups and the institutions that shape the realities of those marginalised groups. They are the co-directors of the Psycho-Social Ethnography of the Commonplace (P-SEC) Research Group, and the co-developers of the P-SEC methodology. Their previous study with LGBT members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their partners, which was conducted between 1996-2010, helped pave the way for the Canadian Government’s acknowledgment of the LGBT Purge (i.e., Justin Trudeau’s public apology in November 2017), and the success of the Purge Class Action settlement. Additional information can be found about Drs. Poulin & Gouliquer and their research at https://p-sec.org/en/.

Purpose of this research project

Although the Canadian Parliament decriminalized same-sex relations in 1969, the parallel discriminatory military policy remained in effect until 1992. The Canadian Forces Administrative Order (CFAO)19-20 declared homosexuality a sexual abnormality. As such, homosexuality was grounds for releasing members from the military (Park, 1994). Over the years, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), a branch of the Military Police, investigated, interrogated, and recommended the release of many military members for homosexuality. However, despite the military’s attempts to eliminate homosexuality from its ranks, members of the LGBTQAI2S+ community demonstrated resilience and continued to serve in this institution back then as they do today. Despite such policy changes regarding homosexuality (e.g., Belkin & McNichol, 2000; Gouliquer, 2000), the reality faced by current LGBTQAI2S+ soldiers and their partners since the end of CFAO 19-20 remains largely unexamined. Much of our previous research focused on the experience of having lived through the pre-1992 era and its immediate aftermath (e.g., Gouliquer, 2000; Gouliquer & Poulin, 2005; Gouliquer, Poulin, & Moore, 2017; Poulin, 2001; Poulin & Gouliquer, 2012; Poulin, Gouliquer, & McCutcheon, 2018; Poulin, Gouliquer, & Moore, 2009). However, little is known regarding the impact of the policy changes that occurred in the 90s, or the present cultural climate of the military institution in general on the lives of LGBTQAI2S+ individuals currently serving in the CAF. The present study aims to address this knowledge gap. Most soldiers who lived through the years prior to 1992 are now retired, but there are many LGBTQAI2S+ soldiers serving in the CAF today. We are now interested in documenting this “new reality.” We also hope to document the current realities of transgender, non-binary, intersex, and two-spirited soldiers. There is relatively little data available on the military experience of these individuals, as many identities were generally unacknowledged and/or simply labelled as homosexuality at the time of our initial study.

How this research will help LGBT2SQ people and communities

This research study will add to the current literature on what life is like as an LGBTQIA2S+ person (a marginalised group) within the military organisation (male-dominated, hypermasculine institution). Our epistemological positioning asserts that the experiences of the marginalised group is a more comprehensive understanding of reality than the dominant group, so we treat their experiences and their knowledge as valuable and trustworthy. The end goal of this research is to alleviate the complications they experience within this institution which will hopefully, in the long run, create a more accepting and inclusive environment in the CAF, and consequently, make LGBTQIA2S+ service member’s experiences in the Canadian military less complicated.

Participants

Must be a currently serving service member (soldier, sailor, aviator, reserve force or regular force) in the CAF. Or must be a partner of a currently serving service member in the CAF. Must be part of the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

Compensation

There is no compensation for participating in this study. Hopefully, compensation can be made in the long-term through policy changes to help make their lives easier as an LGBTQIA2S+ service member or partner in the CAF.

Mitigation measures

A debriefing letter is sent to the participants after their interview with links to resources should they find themselves in distress after their interview.

Promoting the Study

Promotion of the study is mainly in the form of posting on social media and other internet sites – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Kijiji, TikTok. We are reaching out to LGBTQIA2S+ related organisations to help promote the study on social media. We are also using the snowball method (i.e., word of mouth) in hopes to reach participants who may not have seen social media posts or that do not use social media.

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