Canadian Diplomats Highlight Country’s LGBT Rights Record

Martin Loken, minister of political affairs at the Canadian Embassy in D.C. (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Embassy in the U.S.)

(WB) Two Canadian diplomats in the U.S. earlier this month highlighted their country’s efforts to promote LGBT rights.

“We are very much aligned in terms of strongly supporting the rights of LGBTQ persons, both at home and abroad,” said Martin Loken, minister of political affairs at the Canadian Embassy in D.C., on Nov. 14 during a reception that was part of the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s annual International LGBTQ Leaders Conference.

“Respect for all human rights is a central tenet of Canada’s domestic and foreign policy,” added Loken.

Loken spoke three weeks after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won re-election. A picture of Trudeau in brownface that emerged in September sparked outrage and seriously tarnished his reputation ahead of the Oct. 21 election that saw his Liberal Party lose its majority in Parliament.

Trudeau in 2017 formally apologized to those who suffered persecution and discrimination under Canada’s anti-LGBTQ laws and policies. Trudeau in a speech he delivered in the Canadian House of Commons also said the government agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by those who were forced to leave the Canadian military and civil service because of their sexual orientation.

A law that added gender identity to Canada’s nondiscrimination and hate crimes law took effect in 2017. Canada the following year joined the Global Equality Fund, a public-private partnership the U.S. launched in order to promote LGBTQ rights around the world.

Trudeau is among the world leaders who have publicly condemned the anti-LGBTQ crackdown in Chechnya. 

Refugees and asylum seekers in recent years have increasingly sought refuge in Canada. Randall Garrison, an openly gay member of the leftist New Democratic Party who represents portions of Vancouver Island in British Colombia in the House of Commons, is among those who have said the Canadian government needs to do more to protect refugees and asylum seekers, regardless of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

“While recognizing that countries are at different stages, Canada continues to advocate to eliminate laws and policies that discriminate against persons based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics and to combat all acts of violence targeted towards LGBTQ persons,” said Loken.

Canadian Ambassador to the Organization of American States Hugh Adsett at the Nov. 14 reception noted his country is a founding member of the OAS LGBTI Core Group, which seeks to promote LGBTQ rights in the Americas. 

“Canada is proud to be part of this collaborative effort to support the rights of LGBTI persons in the Americas,” said Adsett.

Adsett also said Canada has “been working closely with” the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and other OAS-affiliated entities “to advance our collective responsibility to protect LGBTQ2 persons against human rights violations.”


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