In Focus with Gerard Veldhoven
Stephen Harper’s recent excursion to Israel has me wondering why he chose to include right wing evangelical groups as his guests, or rather the guests of the taxpayers of Canada.
The prime minister’s right wing ideology is well known as through his tenure as head of government he has made it an attempt to reverse Canada’s marriage laws to exclude same-sex couples, vote against equality for gays and lesbians and more recently denied a yes vote for our country’s transgender citizens. T
his is all in keeping with the policies of evangelistic philosophy. These are thoughts not dissimilar to a few other world leaders who do not believe in equality for all.
Our esteemed prime minister has been less than supportive of the LGBT community. Last year he established the Freedom of Religion Office which promotes religious freedom throughout the world. This decision clearly points to Harper’s leaning towards those faiths that have been very vocal in denouncing homosexuality.
Why did he not invite clergy from mainstream churches that are LGBT friendly such as the United Church of Canada, as an example?
In his quest for religious freedom, which I support, if it is void of homophobia, transphobia, race, or any other factors that makes each of us unique, Harper has been silent on this issue. Many of the world’s religions condemn homosexuality and that includes segments of Christianity. When Mr. Harper announced the establishment of this office, not a word was offered for protection for members of the LGBT community worldwide. This office is in place to protect all religions in the world, so in fact he has decided to be a watchdog to make certain rules are followed, regardless if that means discrimination against the world’s queer community.
This, of course, is in keeping with the Conservative party, as only a handful of MPs have voted in favour of change to include equal rights for our transgender brothers and sisters. The fact Harper and his henchmen do not support equal rights is really a strong indication as to why he invited only evangelical clergy on this trip.
The reason why he took them to Israel is up for discussion. One should not be surprised that Harper is showering praise on Israel and ignores the other nations in the area, just another indication of his inability to honour equality.
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Gerard Veldhoven is a former Amherst resident who is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears weekly in The Amherst News.