Lesbian music icon k.d. lang accuesed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week Friday of choosing to “support intolerance” by refusing to attend Montreal’s gathering of international gay and lesbian athletes at the Outgames.

According to The Canadian Press, lang was critical of her fellow Albertan for failing to support the World Outgames, which is expected to attract up to 13,000 gay, bisexual and transgendered athletes.

“It’s a sad statement that the national leader of a country that’s one of the most progressive countries in the world chooses to support intolerance,” she said in a news conference at the Olympic Stadium.

But lang added that the gay community shouldn’t take Mr Harper’s absence personally.

“It’s our job to see that as an unfortunate ignorance, rather than as a statement against us,” she said. “It’s just that he hasn’t got there in his heart.”

Given that Quebec Premier Jean Charest, interim Liberal leader Bill Graham and the Bloc Quebecois’ Gilles Duceppe all scheduled appearances at the games, the CBC reports that Harper’s absence is likely to be noticed.

But the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said there in nothing political in Harper’s decision to skip the Outgames.

“The prime minister receives hundred of invitations to attend several events at the same time,” Dimitri Soudas said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press. “He simply can’t be everywhere at the same time.”

According to Louise Roy, CEO of the organising committee, “The first World Outgames will be the largest LGBT event ever held, encompassing sports, culture and human rights.”

The guest speaker at the opening dinner, Louise Arbour, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights had this to say about attending the Outgames, “Because of the stigma attached to issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity, violence against LGBT persons is frequently unreported, undocumented and goes ultimately unpunished. This shameful silence is the definitive rejection of the fundamental principle of universality of rights. For this reason I am honoured to participate in this vital event,” Ms Arbour is quoted saying on the Outgames website.

Lang performed last weekend at the Olympic Stadium as headliner of the Outgames’ opening ceremonies.

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