The Canadian Minster for Foreign Affairs has attacked what he deemed “offensive” and “mean-spirited” statements on the website of a Christian group which receives federal funding for work in Uganda.
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) had been providing $544,813 (£343,942) in funding to evangelical group, Crossroads Christian Communications (CCC), based in Ontario.
The organization’s website had contained a list of “sexual sins” deemed to be “perversion”. It read: “Turning from the true and/or proper purpose of sexual intercourse; misusing or abusing it, such as in pedophilia, homosexuality and lesbianism, sadism, masochism, transvestism, and bestiality.”
Mr Baird said: “The suggestion that anyone politically or in the public service level at CIDA, at [the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade], would share or endorse the kind of offensive and mean-spirited statements that appeared on a website, I want to categorically on behalf of the government say that we completely reject those sentiments.”
“And I can say that if there’s, you know, any evidence that anyone receiving a grant from the government of Canada is using that money to spread hateful or mean-spirited or offensive practices, it will be put to an end immediately. And those [sentiments] are not the views of the government,” he continued.
John Baird, had previously spoken out against plans for an anti-gay law which includes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” in Uganda, a bill which returned to parliament when it reconvened earlier this month.
New Democrat MP Helene Laverdiere said Fantino’s office had become a “black hole” for aid proposals, with many simply disappearing, while those that do get funding don’t align with Canadian values.
“Those that are funded are increasingly out of step with Canadians,” she said. “How did Christian Crossroads, an anti-gay organization, get sign-off from the minister to operate in a country which Canada has strongly criticized for persecution of its gay citizens?”
The CCC defended its position on homosexuality. Carolyn Innis said: “Crossroads’ views on sexuality are informed by our Christian faith and values.”
She did go on to say, however, that the projects funded by CIDA were focussed on specific goals, and were not linked to its anti-gay stance.
“It has not been a practice of Crossroads to influence matters of policy in countries in which we are completing relief or development projects,” she said.
President of the Quebec LGBT Council said the Canadian government should stop funding the CCC and similar groups.
“It’s unacceptable that the government would accept that kind of organization as an international-co-operation organization,” he said.
“Taxpayers’ money should not be used to finance religious groups working abroad, who furthermore contribute to the creation of discriminatory, even inhumane and dangerous, policy.”
A CIDA spokeswoman, Amy Mills, said in an email: “Canada’s views are clear — we have been strongly opposed to the criminalization of homosexuality or violence against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.”
A study by the Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid found that, between 2005 and 2010, the funding for religious non-government organisations increased 42 per cent. Secular groups saw an increase of five per cent.