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Canada's gay rights defence is all hot air

Canada's gay rights defence is all hot air

This piece was first published in Embassy, Canada's foreign policy newsweekly.

In recent years the Conservative government has positioned itself as one of the most vocal governments in Canadian history in defending gay rights abroad. Whether for ideological reasons or those of personal conviction, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has come out as one of the fervent voices for Canada’s new foreign policy to speak out against the persecution of people based on their sexual orientation.

What appears to be embedded in a new foreign policy is the concept that "gay rights are human rights." Without delving deeper into how that very phrase in and of itself can be problematic — where do bisexual, lesbian or transgendered people fit within such a narrow concept? — I question why Canada keeps showing up to the table with an empty wallet — full of promises, but only blowing hot air.

With a growing stance of pounding its chest on the international stage, Canada is demanding that other countries protect people who face persecution because of their sexual orientation. As a global fellow in 2008 at the Walter & Gordon Foundation — a private charitable organization meant to better Canadian public policy — I explored the role Canada could play in defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people through its development aid.

Then and now, Canada still remains not well placed to be a leader on LGBT human rights issues. Unlike countries such as the Netherlands, France, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Norway, the US and the UK, who to one extent or another fund LGBT civil society groups, the Canadian International Development Agency, by contrast, places gay rights in the "closet" and makes sexuality invisible throughout its programs and projects. Basically, Canada comes to the table of gay rights advocacy with a blank, valueless currency note, not a blank cheque that could effectively save lives and help stem the tide against violence and persecution.

In 2010, the US-based Funders of LGBTQ Issues reported that $35,476,361 US in total grants went to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex civil society organizations in the Global South and East. As a snapshot, $35 million is a mere drop in the bucket when looking at global aid, which amounts to billions of dollars every year. So dismal is Canada’s record in this report, it could be said we are missing in action. From government agencies, to private and public foundations, to consulates and embassies, not one respondent noted Canada as a financial contributor to advancing gay rights in the Global South or East.

So what could this mean?

It means Canada has seated itself at the global table without resources or a clear direction in terms of what it wants to achieve. Even with the decriminalization of homosexuality, violence and abuse still continues. This is evidenced in South Africa, where despite constitutional rights for LGBT people, many still live in fear of corrective rape, are targets of physical violence, and are the victims of murder for just being who they are.

In essence, the continuous grandstanding and empty-pocket approach of our foreign affairs minister is unsustainable and could be a recipe for disaster. Without a plan, without a vision, there could be an unintended effect of abuse being meted out against LGBT people in reaction to the foreign minister’s actions.

With no clear plan in sight, it’s worrying that Canada could align itself with the recent comments made by British Prime Minister David Cameron about cutting foreign aid to Commonwealth countries that criminalize homosexuality. Such an imposition of donor sanctions may be developed with the intention of improving the human rights situation of LGBT people. But, as evidenced in Malawi — where the UK cut 19 million pounds in aid after two gay men were sentenced to 14 years of hard labour — this reactive position created a vacuum, further exacerbated the environment of intolerance, and placed LGBT lives in more danger. Aid cuts do no good in this fight for justice and equality, and ultimately harm everyone in society by placing LGBT people who are already vulnerable in society at the front line of being killed.

So what can the Canadian government do to adequately and effectively address the human rights of LGBT people in Africa and the Caribbean? Firstly, it must integrate LGBT issues as an integral part of CIDA’s programs and projects. Secondly, it must develop an action plan for policy development and support to LGBT issues at a foreign policy level. Thirdly, it must continue to advocate for inclusion of LGBT issues in UN and Organization of American States functional committees, funds and programs. And lastly, the Canadian government must create mechanisms to enable LGBT organizations to access funding immediately.

It’s important to recall the words of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher when she said, “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had money as well.”
 

Comments

Strategic
The Conservative Government is spouting empty rhetoric and superficially championing LGBT rights for one purpose only--to stem the flow of people coming to Canada and making refugee claims on the bases of persecution related to LGBT identities. Our government intends to claim that the decriminalization of 'homosexuality' in other countries marks a shift in attitudes and protection and therefore refugee claims on the basis of sexual and gender diversity are unnecessary or unfounded.
Article
I don't know why you are all so upset with specifics of the article. There are no specifics. We don't know exactly who gave the 35 millions (Canada?), is he proposing funding gay and lesbian civil society (which is just as good as funding any persecuted group) in which case he has a point given that not doing it implies discrimination, or is he, as someone else interpreted, arguing that aid funds should be distributed strings attached. You'd be surprised what strings attached can do and it isn't about starving a child because the country is homophobic, you can always find ways to send help without doing it through the government. That said, the article says very little clearly in terms of what the author wants and what is actually happening.
Leviticus
Hey Donald Spitz, what do you think about eating shellfish? Or how about children who talk back to their parents? According to Leviticus they should be put to death. Pretty harsh interpretation of the bible don't you think? I bet that you'll be silent on these passages - anyone quoting Leviticus gets suspiciously silent and if you're so bend on following the letter of the Leviticus bible, you better get out there and start murdering all those mouthy children and filthy little fish eaters. Grow up you child.
Where is the humanity in your argument Sir?
It is all good and well for people like Akim - a self confessed gay refugee from St Lucia - to wax warm from the comfort of his new home in Canada, about strings attached development aid. The truth is, the people who most benefit from CIDA funds are not gay populations in the developing world. That aid goes to everyone in these countries. So to keep clean water, medicine and food from people who have nothing to do with the gay agenda is heartless. So a poor kid in some homophobic country in Africa must be starved, because his government will not support gay marriage? Where is the humanity in this human rights you so fervently say you believe in Sir?
CANADA's GAY SUPPORT
You don't want to know what I think and it would be illegal likely too according to edward Mccann in CalGAYry alberta where DISCRIMINATION is proven against LGBTQ community along with GENDER aka MALE FATHER RIGHTS, heteros included FL01-11127 decision by Justice Bensler who asked for another order Feb 8 is unaware of Chief Justice Whitmann considering CONTEMPT FEB. 23rd due to gay ex attacking former 6.5 year relationship to Dakota Wilfred Hart D.W.H proven LEGAL FATHER/PARENT/GUARDIAN who has proven AHRC and Govt of Alberta made it WORSE with amendments to FLA making DRA Gaps in legislation worse, by killing Court Challenge program Conservative nazi fuhrer secured communist panda's instead of Vital Statistics Challenge fix and MENS RIGHTS that slick ilawyer ... kaeltsarvek on twitter for FAMILY STATUS class action suit Its already WON,proven just need FAMILY STATUS as CLASS ACTION SUIT and We will ALL BE EQUAL for CHILDS BEST INTEREST. Parent alienation and criminals involved perjury,fraud,negligence,contempt,bias,abuse of power, all for 1% or rich like banks and oil execs who masterfully manipulate money for themselves over constitutional rights and human MORAL WRONGS. HUMAN RIGHTS are GAY RIGHTS COMES from BAIRD due to FL01-01406 & FL01-11127 VICTORIES out of homeless,impecunious who needs funding when you have discrimination and sacrificial GAY FAMILIES & child abuse in CULTUREVILLE2012 NENSHI you fucking negligent BITCH. Redford appoints Rabot to AHRC to stonewall HR for CHINA BUY OUT. OCCUPY THEIR WALLETS and PD accounts and get FUNding
Sad
Its just really sad when I see a black writing stuff like this-he should know better
So what is wrong?
Most western nations do the same including Canada. What is the big deal? Even George Bush when he was President of the United States did the same to protect Americans from so called "Gay Treatments" in Arab Nations and even with trade deals with countries like Singapore.
“SHAMEFUL DISCRIMINATION IN ISRAEL.”
“SHAMEFUL DISCRIMINATION IN ISRAEL.” Israel does not provide marriage to same sex couples because of rabbinical orthodox attitudes. Israel recognizes same sex marriage performed outside of the country. But non-Israeli Gay/Lesbian is out of luck in getting Israeli citizenship if married to an Israeli. “The state doesn't recognize same-sex marriages for the purpose of obtaining citizenship, because they don't 'meet [Israel's] criteria for marriage.' Nevertheless, it makes sure to collect taxes and national insurance payments from these couples as if they were married. In other words, when it comes to their obligations to the state, gay couples are considered married in every respect. But when it comes to their rights, they are defined merely as "maintaining a joint household.” http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/shameful-discrimination-in-israel-1.408256
Just another QuAIA supporter
It's not surprising that a QuAIA supporter like Akim Adé Larcher would attack the Conservative Government's efforts in defending gay rights abroad. In keeping with QuAIA's example, I assume he would prefer a Canadian government that attacks gay-friendly Israel, while totally ignoring the record of the Muslim countries that are Israel's enemies and that persecute gays and oppress women. Akim Adé Larcher even speaks at QuAIA events. See http://queersagainstapartheid.org/2010/11/
It's never enough
As you stated this current Conservative government is positioning itself as one of the most vocal proponents gay rights then any other previous government. Well you know what? Any attempt is better then no attempt. I don't understand all of this venom and criticism on the part of Xtra! Towards the current government on this issue, when this one is at least doing SOMETHING. I feel that it's only because the current government is held by the Conservatives. If these same actions were taken by a Liberal or (God forbid) an NDP government. Your authors would be singing it's praises. I'm not saying this government is unworthy of criticism but really?? No wonder the Conservative party gave up on the gay vote. Nothing they do ever seems to be enough for us. One other commenter remarked that the GLBT rights movements have been hijacked by a left wing agenda. I thinks he was right. Rather then being about basic human rights and equality it's now more about government funding for socialist programs and anti-right wing economic policy. If the author really wanted direct tangible action taken one thing we could do is send troops to these various African countries and demand that all GLBT people be treated fairly. We could evacuate GLBT victims from prisons and camps and force the governments to do what we want. After all this entire article is advocating foreign interventionism despite it's sugary left-wing coating. I would be more then happy to support such action.

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