Rhetorical devices

Direct references and allusions

In the speech “Remarks by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to apologise to LGBTQ2 Canadians”, Trudeau mentions the criminalisation of homosexuality in Canada and its negative consequences (ll. 28-30). In Canada, sexual acts between same-sex people were illegal between 1841 and 1969. As Trudeau mentions, the criminalisation of homosexuality also created a deep social stigma associated with being or suspected of being homosexual, which affected LGBTQ2 Canadians on multiple levels. Trudeau also mentions the types of crimes that the state condemned, such as buggery and gross indecency (ll. 24-25). Buggery (referring to anal or oral sex between people) was condemned through law in 1859, while the crime of gross indecency (usually referring to sexual acts between men) was introduced in 1890.

In the speech we can also find a direct reference to the Purge (l. 39) and to a device called the Fruit Machine (ll. 52-53). This device, which was supposed to measure homosexuality in men, was used in the 1950s and 1960s in a government campaign to eliminate homosexuals from the civil service, the military, and the Royal Canadian Police (ll. 41-51). The reference helps Trudeau highlight past governments’ conviction that homosexuals were a threat (as they were willing to invest in technology that exposed them), while also highlighting the lack of scientific knowledge about homosexuality at that time.

The reason behind the government’s actions at that time, Trudeau states, was the government’s fear that “all non-heterosexual Canadians would automatically be at increased risk of blackmail by our adversaries due to what was called ‘character weakness’ ” (ll. 46-47). This is an allusion to Canada’s position during the Cold War. In the 1950s and 1960s, Cold War tensions generated national security c...

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