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Britain held immense sway over Canadian policy throughout the many years in which homosexuality was criminalized.

Dating from the early colonial era, homosexuality was officially illegal and the penalty for “the abominable act of buggery” (also known as sodomy) was punishable by death.

They were almost always targeted at men, and by using consistently ambiguous language tended to give a tremendous amount of discretionary power to law enforcement.

Beginning in 1890, accused gays were usually charged with the crime of “gross indecency.” Amendments to the criminal code were made in 19, which further criminalized homosexuality through the invented categories of “criminal sexual psychopath” and “dangerous sexual offender.” (The definition of the latter was anyone “who is likely to commit another sexual offence,” thus criminalizing any gay person who was not celibate.) Two important events precipitated the liberalization of Canadian laws and attitudes in the late 1960s.

Most people who meet Colleen don’t know she’s transgender.