Julian Fantino forgot to do his homework.
The Canadian government is funding an evangelical group that does charity work in a poverty-ravaged nation of East Africa. In and of itself, this is a pretty common occurrence, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) provides funding for a number of Christian charities, many of which do work in developing nations all over the world. But in this instance the organisation, Crossroads Christian Communications, who also makes Christian television programs, considers homosexuality to be a “perversion,” and the nation in question is Uganda, the same Uganda whose government may soon pass a notorious 'Kill the Gays' bill, which will make “homosexual acts” illegal and punishable by death.
To make this predicament a little more clear, let's put it this way: The Canadian government is giving money to an anti-LGBT group that works in a nation where people, in the near future, may risk execution for committing 'homosexual acts'. The National Post reports that up until last Saturday, the Crossroads website contained a list of “sexual sins”, including “pedophilia, homosexuality and lesbianism, sadism, masochism, transvestism and bestiality.” The odd need to separate “lesbianism” from “homosexuality” aside, these guys obviously belong to the pernicious Rick Santorum school of belief that equates homosexuality to having sex with animals.
Currently, the head of CIDA is International Cooperation Minister Julian Fantino, who has defended the $544,813 given to Crossroads, claiming that “We fund results-based projects, not organisations, and religion has nothing to do with any of that.” But Fantino's deflection of responsibility reeks of self-interest, and ignores the fact that CIDA probably didn't do an adequate amount of research on the group before awarding the money. Crossroads' prejudicial denial of the legitimacy of rights of LGBT persons is in conflict with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which directly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. CIDA should have known not to provide funds to Crossroads Christian Communications, and that's why they have now stopped making payments to the group, pending an investigation.
This event highlights the friction between the Conservative government and the Canadian LGBT community. On one hand, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has spoken out against the persecution of LGBT persons in Uganda. Even though he's never admitted to it, Baird may very well be gay, or at the very least, he enjoys drinking effete cocktails at a certain flashy dining establishment in Toronto's gay village. On the other hand, it tolerates MPs like Saskatchewan's Tom Lukiwski, who once made comments about “homosexual faggots with dirt under their fingernails who transmit diseases.” In another situation, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney mined an online petition in support of gay Nicaraguan artist who was facing deportation for email addresses of LGBT Canadians, to whom he sent unsolicited letters about Canada's acceptance of LGBT refugees from Iran.
In an interview with VICE last year, all-around awful human being and author of Uganda's 'Kill the Gays' bill, David Bahati, insisted that his bill would promote “rehabilitation and counseling” for the “victims” of homosexuality. His vision of a world without homosexuals is not far off from Christian Crossroads' belief that the proper path for sinners is to “repent”, completely ignoring the overwhelming evidence that being gay isn't a fucking choice. The Crossroads' website currently states that the organisation's mission includes long-term investments towards HIV/AIDS intervention, but there's no mention on that would entail, and given that HIV/AIDS is especially prevalent in LGBT communities, Canadian government support for an an anti-LGBT organisation in Uganda is downright dangerous.
If the Crossroads Christian Communications website is to be believed, then the organisation is also responsible for shipping good quality medical supplies and equipment into areas that have been affected by natural disasters, wars, and poverty. While these are admirable goals, they do not negate the influence of a relief organisation that perpetuates false myths about homosexuality in the developing world, particularly in a nation like Uganda, where homophobia may soon become a very tangible part of the legal system.
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