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Canada: Minister defends funding decision for anti-gay group

Joseph McCormick February 12, 2013
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The Canadian minister responsible for the government agency which had provided funding to a group which was openly opposed to homosexuality has defended the funding decision, saying that the money was for a specific project.

Earlier today, Canada’s International Co-operation Minister, Julian Fantino, announced that he intended to review its funding of an anti-gay evangelical organisation which describes homosexuality as a “perversion”.

The Canadian government has denounced homophobia in Uganda, and its Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, has spoken out against plans for an anti-gay law which includes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”. 

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) had, however 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.”

The minister responsible for CIDA, Fantino, was made aware of the situation, and, despite tweeting earlier to say that the group would be investigated, he defended the decision to fund the project.

He said: “We fund results-based projects, not organisations .. Projects are delivered without religious content, including this particular project.”

He previously tweeted: “We strongly oppose criminalisation of homosexuality & violence due to sexual orientation. CIDA funds projects based on merit  

The group makes television programming to help dig wells, build latrines and promote hygiene awareness in Uganda for 2014.

The organisation’s website contained a page which was criticised for being anti-gay, however once contacted by the press, the page was reportedly taken down.

Quebec’s government recently announced that it wanted to create its own agency because it did not support CIDA’s funding choices, CTV news reports.

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.

Back in October, the Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament claimed that Canada had refused to grant visas for several of the country’s politicians due to its ban on same-sex marriage.

Related topics: Africa, Americas, Canada, Canada, canadian international development agency, cida, crossroads christian communications, julian fantino, Uganda

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