I don't know quite what REAL Women was trying to do with this press release, but they managed to make themselves look intolerant, petty, mean, vindictive and cheap. Also, bigoted.
Real Women of Canada, a privately funded socially conservative group, says Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is imposing his own views on Uganda, Kenya and Russia when he criticizes those countries for passing legislation targeting homosexuals.
The group, which describes itself as a "pro-family conservative women's movement," issued a press release Wednesday decrying what it called Baird's "abuse of office" and his awarding of a $200,000 grant to "special interest groups" in Uganda and Kenya "to further his own perspective on homosexuality."
Real Women also lambasted Baird for admitting he worked extensively behind the scenes to persuade Russia not to pass laws restricting foreign adoption of Russian children by gay couples and cracking down on gay rights activism to control the spread of "homosexual propaganda."
Finally, the press release states, "Mr. Baird's actions are destructive to the conservative base in Canada and causing collateral damage to his party."
Asked for comment, a spokesman for Baird's office said in a statement, "The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canada’s foreign policy.
"Canada stands up for human rights and takes principled positions on important issues to promote freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law," Rick Roth said.
Roth compared the criminalization of homosexuality to the suppression of fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and expression. He continued, “This is not a left versus right issue. This is a position that is supported by a vast majority of Canadians."
In a telephone interview with CBC News, Gwendolyn Landolt, national vice-president of Real Women of Canada, disputed that defending the rights of gays and lesbians is a human rights issue in other countries.
"According to the culture and the religion of, you know, Uganda it's not a human rights issue. You can't imply that every country has to take our human rights issues and plunk it down in another country. And particularly when you're spending all that taxpayers' money to implement a standard which is not that of that country," she said.
When asked about reports that Uganda has considered the death penalty as punishment for having homosexual relations, Landolt said, "It may be unwise by Western standards, but who are we to interfere in a sovereign country?"
Wrong, wrong, wrong. There are limits to what Canada can do, obviously, and to what it should do on the international stage. But speaking out against human rights abuses strikes me as quite alright. For instance, I wish we spoke out more loudly against the genital mutilation of girls, or against forced sterilizations, or against the routine mistreatment of women and girls, against religious and sectarian violence, and - yes - against the criminalization of homosexuality and abuses against gays.
Nobody's asking anyone to approve and embrace gays. Certainly John Baird isn't. Personally I think of myself as pretty gay-friendly, but I understand some people are uncomfortable with this and prefer the company of straights. That's their right. But you know. Openly criticizing Baird over this makes REAL Women look like a bunch of mean bullies, no matter what their intentions were. They deserve the flack they're getting. Too bad.