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article imageQueer Rights Erased From Canadian History

By Bryen Dunn     Mar 4, 2010 in Politics
A top government minister in Canada is under fire for stripping references to gay rights from a brochure given to immigrants.
The Canadian Press revealed Tuesday that Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney edited references to gay rights and protection out of a newly released study guide for immigrants applying for citizenship.
Both references to the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1969, and the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2005, were deleted, over repeated objections from senior department officials. The guide's sections on equal rights and protection against discrimination were also eliminated.
"Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969 and more recently, civil marriage rights to same-sex couples was legalized nationwide in 2005," the earliest draft of the guide says under the section Towards a Modern Canada. In the section on citizenship rights, the early draft said: "Equality Rights - Canadians are protected against discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or age." Neither sentence remains in the Kenney's revised edition.
Kenney has so far refused to answer any media questions on the study guide; though the day after the Canadian Press story was filed, Kenney discussed his concerns about seven new refugee claims coming out of the Vancouver Olympics.
Kenney is a staunch Conservative from a Calgary riding, who consistently fought gay marriage in Canada, and commented to journalists in 2005 that gays had every right to marry - as long as it wasn't to someone of the same sex.
Gay rights advocates blasted the Immigration Minister on Tuesday. Queer lawmaker Bill Siksay demanded an immediate review of the study guide, and scoffed, "Jason Kenney can't edit gays and lesbians out of Canadian history."
Canada has long been known as a safe haven for the LGBT community abroad who maybe living in fear of persecution in their home country. Liberal MP Marlene Jennings, speaking on behalf of Immigration critic Maurizio Bevilacqua, noted that it was under a Liberal government that protection was granted for refugee claimants entering Canada because of persecution for their sexual orientation.
The new guide, updated from the 1995 edition, was released on November 12, and citizenship applicants will start being tested on its contents March 15.
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