From 1996-1998 I had the privilege of studying at the University of Calgary as a Canadian Commonwealth Scholar. Since then I have travelled the world over, but I have only ever been called a nigger in Calgary. I regret that my experience of Canadian intolerance is not unique, and is in fact now being exported.
I suspect Canadians may feel a little smug, thinking that the global homophobic paranoia is being driven primarily by American fundamentalists such as Scott Lively. However, the following news story reminded me of Canada’s role in spreading anti-gay misinformation and hate worldwide.
On March 6 during Michigan’s ongoing marriage-equality case, economist Douglas Allen of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, was called as an expert witness. Under oath on the witness stand Allen claimed that same-sex parenting was detrimental to children, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Not surprisingly, he also said he believed homosexuals would go to hell if they don’t repent.
Professor Allen wrote a report analyzing 52 gay parenting studies between 1995 and 2010, in which he concluded that scientific research was lacking for conclusions that gay parents have equal outcomes for children.
However, in June 2013 the findings of the largest study of same-sex parenting ever conducted were released. It involved 315 same-gender couples and 500 children and found that kids of same-sex parents are healthier and their families are closer than straight-parent families. It is important to note that this research was ordered by the Australian government, which still refuses to recognize marriage equality. The study was also available for use by Dr. Allen during his expert testimony, that is, if he had wanted to be guided by evidence and not blind ideology.
Canadians were also instrumental in ensuring that Jamaica’s 2011 Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms was deliberately framed to exclude rights for homosexuals. In 2006, Dr. Janet Epp Buckingham, director of law and public policy for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, traveled to Jamaica and made a presentation to the Jamaican Parliament as well as held meetings with conservative lawyers. During these sessions she highlighted the Canadian experience with human rights recognition of LGBT people and said she was “concerned” about Jamaica’s proposed Charter becoming as inclusive and tolerant as Canada’s.
In no small part due to her lobbying, our Charter, which is based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, includes the first-ever constitutional ban on non-heterosexual relationships. Further, Jamaica’s Charter was crafted to prohibit discrimination on the ground of being “male or female” not “sex” as this was felt to be a way that gay rights could have been read into the Charter, as happened in Canada. Finally, the categories of discrimination under the constitution were deliberately closed so “other status” does not appear. This prevents the court finding sexual orientation to be analogous to any of the other protected classes.
Additionally, the Canadian government also funded a notoriously anti-gay group in Uganda. This support was eventually suspended after an outcry by Canadian LGBT activists.
It would be nice to hear how these same activists think they can help to end the export of homophobia by Canadian nationals.
There has been relative success in stopping the export of murder music from Jamaica. The campaign against murder preachers from the U.S. is having an impact as more of them are distancing themselves from the vile laws recently passed in Nigeria, Uganda, and Russia. Let’s now halt murder academics and lawyers from Canada whose “evidence” is often used to undermine human rights of LGBT people worldwide.
Maurice Tomlinson is a Jamaican attorney-at-law, human rights activist and lecturer in Canadian human rights law at the University of Ontario, Institute of Technology.