Well, there was quite the, as my old mum used to say, “to do” in early August over REAL Women, the gay lobby, Africa, Russia, and John Baird. A “to do,” by the way, is a fuss, an event, a controversy – often over very little indeed. In this case, tried and tested friends of REAL Women, and its spokesperson and public face and voice, Gwen Landolt, such as Barbara Kay and myself, wrote and broadcast that we disagreed with the organization and its leader. The reason was statements she and they had made concerning Canada’s Foreign Minister and what John Baird had said about the treatment of homosexuals in Uganda and Kenya.
It’s important to explain what actually happened here rather than react to rumor, and also to distinguish between Russian and African attitudes towards homosexuality. Zimbabwean dictator and unstable brute Robert Mugabe, for example, has said that gays should be beheaded, and that they are worse than animals. Throughout Africa, and indeed in much of the Caribbean, homosexuals are beaten on the streets, sometimes to death, and live in fear and terror. If this is something of which you approve, we have nothing further to discuss. I follow Christ, not His opposite.
In Russia, however, while there is a general disdain for homosexuality, gay people are not treated thus, and have protection under law. What the Duma has proposed is that public and political displays from gay groups, and attempts to introduce homosexuality to young people, will be banned. This is something entirely different from the African approach, and that must be emphasized. My disagreement with REAL Women was over their approach towards how gay people are treated in Africa and specifically in Uganda. They claimed that John Baird was promoting homosexuality abroad, and alleged that he had “insulted the speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, at a meeting of the International Parliamentary Union in Quebec City when he criticized Uganda for its position on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.”
Seems to me there are different issues here. Every country, every person, has a right – I would argue a duty – to oppose same-sex “marriage,” but every country and every person has a duty to protect gay people from violence and persecution. This is where I appear to part company with REAL Women. On my television show Gwen Landolt, whom I admire and respect, explained that African persecution of gays is “unwise” but that it was not our place to interfere with the policies of sovereign states. Sorry, but beatings and murder are more than “unwise,” and there is nothing untoward in Canada declaring publicly that nobody should be slaughtered for their sexuality.
To put it another way, we have to distinguish between gay people and a gay agenda. Believe me, I know the latter, and have suffered because of it. In fact, I want to point a few fingers, so forgive the churlish gesticulation. It’s easy to be a social conservative when you’re at home, work for a Christian or pro-life group, have a job that is not political, or are not in the public eye. But try being firmly pro-life in the public square, try speaking out myriad times against same-sex “marriage” as a journalist and broadcaster in mainstream media, and as someone who has a relatively high profile. I have lost jobs, I have been physically attacked, I and my family have been threatened, my father’s death was mocked, and I have been told that numerous media outlets will simply never employ me, I have had excrement sent to me, I have received abusive phone-calls in the middle of the night. So please, spare me any extraordinarily ungrateful and ungracious criticisms because I do not fulfill every aspect of an extremist agenda. I prefer to fight meaningfully for family, marriage, and life rather than scream pointlessly from my kitchen laptop and then feel all self-righteous and pristine.
But back to the substance of the issue. John Baird is the best foreign minister we’ve ever had in Canada. He has opposed liberal special interest groups, stood up to foreign dictators, and – vital, this – campaigned for protecting persecuted Christians throughout the world. I received e-mails from angry people asking if Baird would have spoken up for Christians the way he did for gay people. Yes, he would; and has, and will. It’s simply wrong to say otherwise. I know of no other foreign minister who has been so active in this cause.
Frankly, REAL Women’s did itself and the cause a disservice, and some of us are asking why they did so and what was their point? They should have been, at the very least, more nuanced and precise in what they said. A far more genuine issue is the attempt by the west to force same-sex “marriage” and perverse sex education curricula on Catholic nations within the European Community – Croatia being the latest example. These are battles worth fighting, and ones we can win. Even Moscow’s policies must be understood and in many ways defended, but not the downright violent persecution of men and women with same-sex attractions. This is tribal rather than faith-based, and in countries such as Jamaica, it often comes from people and groups who simultaneously refuse to condemn promiscuity and absent fathers.
The defence of marriage, the defence of children, and the defence of terrified and victimized gay people are not mutually exclusive. For me they are part of the same Christian impetus. No compromise on truth, but no compromise on love. There, I’ve said it.
Michael Coren’s website is www.michaelcoren.com, where he can be booked for speeches and his books purchased.