This is not the case in many places around the world. Canadian homosexuals are fortunate that they don’t have to live with the daily persecution that exists in other countries. In Egypt, for example, 52 homosexual men were convicted in 2001 of "debauchery" and were tortured in prison and subjected to humiliating medical examinations before being sentenced to hard labour for "crimes against Islam". Hisham Kassem, the director of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, shrugged this off with the comment "We let them down, but I don’t have a mandate from the people and I don’t want the West to set the pace for the human rights movement in Egypt". In Saudi Arabia in 2002, authorities publicly beheaded three gay men after being found guilty by Islamic courts of "engaging in the extreme obscenity and ugly acts of homosexuality, marrying among themselves and molesting the young". In Iran, gay sex is punishable by death, and in 2005 two gay teenagers were executed by hanging after being held in prison for 14 months and tortured. In Afghanistan under the Taliban, homosexuals were crushed to death by having walls bulldozed down on them.
Gay Canadians who live in a liberal western democracy that guarantees them rights that homosexuals in other countries can only dream of (including the right to marry) have a duty to support changes in places like Egypt, Iran and Afghanistan. That means that at the very least, we should support a foreign policy that holds these countries accountable for their appalling human rights records, and a foreign development agenda that encourages the spread of liberal democracy, civil rights and the rule of law. We should also hold governments and international organizations like the UN to account for failures to protect these victims.
So, which Canadian federal party is actually trying to do this? Here’s a hint: it’s not the NDP, whose policy is to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan and negotiate with the Taliban. It’s not the Liberal Party, who sent troops to Afghanistan in the first place but is now getting cold feet because Canadians are getting killed, and whose policy of exercising our "soft power" as "honest brokers" between moral equals has been a resounding and unequivocal failure. Yes, folks - it’s the redneck homophobes of the Conservative Party of Canada.
In his recent speech to the UN, chief redneck Stephen Harper had this to say:
So to those who express surprise that gay men and women can support the Conservative Party of Canada, I have this to say: what have the other parties done lately to protect homosexuals overseas?
Kofi Annan, our distinguished secretary general, whom we thank for his 10 years of loyal service, summed up in a few words the reason why we must combat terrorism. Terrorism, he said, "is a direct attack on the core values the United Nations stands for: the rule of law, the protection of civilians, mutual respect between people of different faiths and cultures, and peaceful resolution of conflict."
That is why we in the United Nations have the responsibility to defeat terrorism. that is why, with unity and determination, the United Nations undertook its responsibility and its role in Afghanistan. And that is why Canada, which lost 24 of its own citizens on 9-11, answered the call.
And there we are. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan is the UN's single largest special political mission. It is also, by far, Canada's biggest and most important overseas engagement. So the UN's mission is Canada's mission.