Remember the government’s 63-page guide for new immigrants? Intended to teach potential citizens the ins and outs of Canadian culture, the guide was mysteriously missing any meaningful mention of GLBT rights.
Shortly after the final draft of the guide was released, Canada’s largest gay rights group, Egale, arranged a meeting with Jason Kenney, the Tory minister for Immigration and Citizenship in November. At the time, he told the group that gay rights had simply been “overlooked” during the design of the guide.
Interestingly enough, the Canadian Press revealed yesterday that not only were gay rights not overlooked in early drafts of the guide, but they were actually ordered to be removed by Kenney himself back in June.
The order to nix the gay rights sections didn’t go over well with civil servants, mind you. In August, a memo addressed to Kenney from Neil Yeates, the department’s deputy minister, urged that the GLBT-related sections be readded. Two bullet points from the memo read:
Recommend the re-insertion of the text boxes related to […] the decriminalization of homosexual sex/recognition of same-sex marriage
Recommend the addition of ‘equality rights’ under list of rights. Had noted earlier that this bullet should be reinserted into the list as a means of noting the equality of all based on race, gender, sexual orientation etc.
Kenney—who fought against same-sex marriage from 2005-2006 and voted to open a debate to ban same-sex marriage in 2007—vetoed the recommendations, and 500,000 copies of the guide were printed without mention of GLBT rights.
So, I guess that’s what’s Kenney means by “overlooked.” (Perhaps he has a different edition of the dictionary that I do.)
Applicants for Canadian citizenship, incidentally, will be tested on the contents of the guide starting March 15th. So beware the Ides of March, new immigrants—and especially gay ones; your future government is the type that would censor your very first introduction to our country and culture.