Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts

December 8, 2015

Canada’s Immigration and 6 More Reasons of Why an Immigrant Might not be Gay



When the Liberal government announced gay men from Syria will be prioritized for refugee status, we began to look at previous LGBT refugee claims made to Canada’s Refugee Appeals Division (RAD).

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has guidelines for how front-line workers should try to determine the sexual orientation of refugee claimants. These include suggestions like exploring applicants’ experiences of difference or shame instead of asking detailed questions about their sex lives.

But a look at judgments from the RAD shows that immigration officials sometimes don’t follow that advice. Instead, they will often nitpick statements and discredit the testimony of refugees based on unfounded ideas of how sexual orientation works.

We’ve included the judgments from the RAD and the relevant sections, summarized and re-stated for length and clarity, so you can see for yourself what the process can look like — here are six more reasons why some applicants claiming persecution for their sexuality were denied refugee status.  These are all real cases.

1. Because the word “relationship” can be ambiguous 

Canada: So did you have two relationships with women before you left Ghana?

Refugee: No. I’m in a relationship with a woman in Canada now, and I had sexual relationships with women in Ghana, but it wasn’t serious.

Canada: So how many not committed, not serious relationship have you had?

Refugee: I’ve been with three other women. But those weren’t committed.

Canada: But you said before that one of those lasted for three years. How is that not serious?

Refugee: Uhm, it was more casual and I didn’t really have feelings for her? Have you never heard of friends-with-benefits?

Canada: Not a lesbian.
2. You forgot how old your ex was when you met
 
Canada: When did you first start dating your girlfriend?

Refugee: 2001. We were together for 12 years.

Canada: What was her birth date?

Refugee: I included it in my documents.

Canada: How old was she when you first started dating?

Refugee: I don’t remember exactly how old she was.

Canada: You’re not a lesbian. Real lesbians always remember.
3. You had a secret boyfriend
Canada: So you had a boyfriend while you were in Morocco?

Refugee: Yes, but we tried our best to keep it secret.

Canada: But why would you date someone if you were trying to keep it a secret that you’re gay?

Refugee: Like I said, we tried to keep it a secret.

Canada: I find that highly unlikely.

X (Re), 2014 CanLII 66647 (CA IRB)
Sections 8, 34 

4. The panel misheard you
Refugee: My family elder told me that my uncle was threatening to report me to the police if I went back to Nigeria.

Canada: Your family elder threatened to report you to the police? That’s not what it says in your affidavit.

Refugee: That’s not what I said.

Canada: That’s what I heard.

Refugee: What? No, it was my uncle who was going to report me —

Canada: You’re clearly not gay.

Galogaza v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2015 FC 407
Sections 19-22


5. You never went to the police
  
Canada: So you’re from Croatia eh? I hear that’s where they film Game of Thrones.

Refugee: Uhm, what?

Canada: Did you know that the actor who plays Hodor is gay? Why would they film the show in Croatia if it wasn’t safe for gay people?

Refugee: Actually, it’s pretty unsafe. There was a Pride march in Split in 2011 where 10,000 homophobes attacked 300 marchers and the police didn’t do anything to protect them.

Canada: So why didn’t you go to the police when you felt unsafe?

Refugee: Have you been listening to me?

Canada: Sorry. I don’t believe you.

Galogaza v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2015 FC 407
Sections 6-15 

6. Being attacked twice doesn’t count as often
Canada: So you’re a gay Roma man from Slovakia. That must have been tough.

Refugee: Yes. I was physically attacked twice while I was in trade school.

Canada: In the documents you provided, you said that you were “often” beaten up. What do you mean by “beaten up?”

Refugee: Either physically or verbally attacked.

Canada: So were you “beaten up” often or twice?

Refugee: I was physically attacked twice and verbally attacked many more times.

Canada: Seems like a contradiction. You’re probably lying.

Banda v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2015 FC 474 (CanLII)
Section 18-21

November 17, 2014

Canada’s Tax Funded Academia boosts Tanzanian Homophobia


                                                                              

Throughout Tanzania, male same-gender intimacy carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, and according to reports, Canadian taxpayer-funded academic and Anglican theologian Dr. Gary Badcock is urging them to keep it that way.
A Canadian English teacher reported about Dr. Badcock’s homophobic remarks in Tanzania after she returned from a recent trip there for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of St Philip’s Theological College. She taught at the college from 2001-2002, which  is owned and operated by the Anglican church of Tanzania.
The College was founded by a missionary sent by Huron College, now part of the University of Western Ontario. Therefore, Huron sent Dr. Gary Badcock as their representative.
During his keynote speech at the historic centenary celebration on Saturday November 8, Dr. Badcock is reported to have said that homosexuality was a “first world” problem and that Tanzanians should be worried because homosexuals will come and steal their children.  Dr. Badcock is part of the ultra-conservative Anglican Network in Canada thathas objected to the full inclusion of LGBT people as equal members of the Anglican Communion.
As I have written before in Erasing 76 Crimes,  this is not the first time that Canadian taxpayers have helped to spread homophobia around the globe.  On March 6 this year, during Michigan’s marriage-equality case, economist Douglas Allen of the publicly funded Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, was called as an expert witness. Under oath on the witness stand, Allen claimed that same-sex parenting was detrimental to children, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  Additionally, the Canadian government funded a notoriously anti-gay group in Uganda. This support was eventually suspended after an outcry by Canadian LGBT activists.
The Canadian government has made a point of declaring human rights for LGBT people to be a central plank of their overseas development agenda.  It is therefore surprising that Canadian public funds are being used to support the restriction, or elimination, of those very same rights.

October 2, 2014

33 HIV+Gay Man Denied Bail for having Undisclosed Sex with 16 yr Old


Elliott Youden emerges from the Elgin Street courthouse on June 4 after 
he was acquitted of a charge of aggravated sexual assault in regard to
 whether he disclosed his HIV-positive status prior to a sexual encounter in July 2010



A gay activist arrested again on charges he did not disclose his HIV-positive status to a 16-year-old sexual partner was denied bail on Wednesday.
Elliott Youden, 33, appeared in court charged with aggravated sexual assault and extortion. There is a publication ban on evidence heard at the bail hearing.
In the latest case, police were called to Youden’s apartment on St. Patrick Street on Sunday night just after 9:30 by a 16-year-old boy. Police allege the teen was sexually assaulted and extorted. Court records show that police believe Youden tried to extort $500 from the boy and that the recent charges relate to the time between Sept. 1 and Sept. 27.
Police have said they believe there could be other alleged victims and were encouraging anyone with information to come forward.
Youden was acquitted of aggravated sexual assault in June after police had charged him in a July 2010 incident in which a Carleton University student alleged that Youden, a Department of National Defence employee at the time, kept his HIV status a secret before the two engaged in unprotected consensual sex at Youden’s apartment.
Youden, however, said the sex was safe and alleged that the complainant in that case had tried to extort $300 from him. A jury trial that began in January of this year ended in a mistrial.
In a new trial by judge alone, Ontario Superior Court Justice Monique Metivier rendered the acquittal, saying she couldn’t rely on the evidence of either the accused or the student and that the Crown had failed to convince her beyond a reasonable doubt that Youden was guilty.
In a 2012 interview with Daily Xtra, an LGBTQ website, Youden, as a member of Legalize AIDS and Queer Ottawa, defended the actions of HIV-positive Steven Boone, a self-described “poz vampire” who wanted to spread the virus and was convicted of three counts of attempted murder for failing to disclose his diagnosis.
Youden said he believed Boone got caught up in the virus-chasing subculture.
“While he may have been enamoured with risky sex, I don’t think he ever wanted to murder somebody,” Youden said.
Boone remains in custody and faces the possibility of a long-term offender designation.

July 3, 2014

Canada with It’s fear of Immigrants could make America Great Again


                                                                             
                                                                
                                                                          
In Chuck Palahniuk's novel Choke, protagonist's his mother, an Italian immigrant to the United States, does not fulfill the garlic-scented stereotype of American pasta commercials. Instead, she lives in a house crammed with old furniture in Iowa, the state she moved to as a young medical student, to take advantage of the elusive "American Dream." 
"The truth is," Palahniuk writes, "immigrants tend to be more American than people born here."
Despite immigrants being a core part of the U.S. identity, immigration control and border security remain a tense issues for the American public, and there's a long list of problems with our current approach, including the exploitation of undocumented immigrants or people dying on our borders. As Al-Jazeerareports, fewer unauthorized immigrants cross the border from Mexico into the U.S. today, but those who do "are pushed into an unforgiving zone called the Corridor of Death, where they risk everything to cross." 
It's policy in dire need of reform, and on June 30, President Barack Obama vowed to take executive action on comprehensive immigration reform after Speaker John Boehner informed the president that the House wouldn't vote on legislation this year. 
The U.S. doesn't have a monopoly on anxiety about borders; in Europe, anti-immigration sentiment has fueled hate crimes and acts of violence. But for a lesson on how immigrants should actually be treated, the U.S. and the wider Western world might want to look to Canada, for a few tips.
There are many similarities between the U.S. and its neighbor to the north. It's no coincidence that some of our favorites in Hollywood, including Ellen Page, Ryan Gosling, and Seth Rogen, are all Canadian exports. The two countries have similar cultures, thanks to their shared colonial history, as well as long-running and close diplomatic ties between the two countries. 
In an effort to drive its economy, Canada adopted open-immigration policies in the 1970s, relaxing restrictions and opening its borders. To Canadians, accepting immigrants into their country is a part of the country's nation-building, trying to use the influx of people to its country to improve, not divide, itself. It's what has made Toronto, Canada's capital, one of the most diverse in the world. 
Even the Canadian government reports that immigration has helped, not hindered social cohesion and political engagement. New research by the Canadian government suggests that this has something to do with the fact that the country sensitive to integrating immigrants since its inception in 1867, thanks to the many differences between the English in Ottawa and the French in Quebec. Without a clearly defined national identity, this has made Canada country that prides itself on welcoming foreigners into the country.
Demographics reporter Joe Friesen of the Globe and Mail writes that immigration has encouraged innovation, international trade and the attractiveness of cities. Speaking to Peter Dungan, an economist at University of Toronto, Friesen learns that providing immigrants with more tools to succeed benefits the country as a whole. Dungan says that an increase of 100,000 immigrants would translate into a 2.3% increase in real GDP over the following ten years.
Including immigrants more enthusiastically in society, like Canada has, could improve America's sense of unity and boost its economy. Immigrants bring new opportunities in business and in the labor force, and many Canadians get that (apart from the country's current government, which has passed some seriously eyebrow-raising restrictions on immigration). 
Immigrants have made the United States what it is today, so why not acknowledge it Instead, xenophobia and racism are regularly peddled in the public sphere, even in the most benign of conversations. Take, for example, conservative pundit Ann Coulter's recent remarks about soccer. Coulter describes the popularity of the sport as evidence of the country's "moral decay," since anyone with deep roots in the U.S. would not follow the sport. 
It's the sort of rhetoric that feeds the thriving anti-immigrant movement, with a handful of official organizations working across the country. 
Consider how much of what makes us proud of the United States was built by immigrants. More than 40% of Fortune 500 Companies were started by immigrants. Their role in important sectors of the economy is critical, from high-skilled math and sciences to agriculture and the service industry to information technology.
That contribution to our economy also includes undocumented workers, most of whom pay taxes, despite being made invisible by the law. Why not open the doors to participation in the basic aspects of American society to people who are already intertwined in the fabric of the nation?
If we can learn anything from Canada, it's that we should embrace what immigrants have already done for our country. It could open the door to a brighter future for the U.S.

June 5, 2014

Gay Man found Not Guilty in Case of Not disclosing HIV Status




                                                                            

Gay supporter Elliott Youden has been found not guilty of aggravated sexual assault.
Youden, 33, had been accused of failing to declare his HIV positive status before his July 2010 sexual encounter with a Carleton University engineering student. 
The aggravated sexual assault case against Ottawa gay activist Elliott Youden is a “he said, he said” scenario that hangs on the credibility of the two men involved, defense lawyer Ian Carter told an Ottawa judge Tuesday.
Youden, 33, denies failing to declare his HIV positive status before his July 2010 sexual encounter with a Carleton University engineering student — an alleged failing that led to the assault charge.
The complainant, short of money and desperate for cash, met Youden on the Gay411 website and claims the two arranged to meet so the student could massage Youden for a fee.
According to the student, the fee was renegotiated when the massage turned sexual.
Youden says there was no mention of money changing hands until the sex had ended and the student demanded $500 and threatened “consequences” if he didn’t pay.
After persuading the student that he needed to find an ATM to get the money, Youden slipped away from him on Elgin Street.
The complainant, an adult whose identity is protected by a publication ban, said he had no intention of engaging in the sexual encounter that ensued at Youden’s apartment, and while he admitted to posting a profile of himself on Gay411 he said he only wanted to find friendship.
Youden, who testified that Gay411 is known in the gay community as the place where men go to find sexual partners, claimed that in the ensuing messages between the two he declared his HIV-positive status.
The website does not retain exchanges between its subscribers so no written record exists.
The student alleges that Youden didn’t declare his HIV status even though they had various types of consensual sex five times during the afternoon and that Youden used a condom only once.
Youden said they had sex twice and that he used a condom both times.
Defence counsel Carter told Ontario Superior Court Justice Monique Metivier that the student’s version of events makes no sense and he “is not very forthright.
“Gay411 is about sex,” he said. “All the comments are about sexuality. The whole site is about sexual encounters.”
The student, who had no qualifications or training as a masseur, had arrived at Youden’s apartment with no massage oil but did bring condoms, noted Carter.
In his testimony, the student said he had a “game plan” to leave the apartment if the encounter turned sexual — a claim Carter said was a fiction.
“It is ludicrous (to suggest) that he is going there with no expectation of sex,” he said.
The student, who is not HIV positive, had also testified that he had removed his shirt almost as soon as he arrived at Youden’s apartment but had only done so because he was feeling the July heat.
Carter said that was “one of the strangest explanations I’ve heard in a courtroom.”
Crown prosecutor David Elhadad disagreed with Carter’s characterization of the student complainant and said he had been forthright during his evidence, and it made no sense that he would have sex with a stranger he knew was HIV positive.
The complainant told police that Youden had written him through the Gay411 website and apologized for not paying him for the encounter.
The website’s policy of deleting messages means there is no evidence that Youden wrote that note.
Justice Metivier will rule on Wednesday.

May 19, 2014

Canadian Punk Band 41 Deryck Whibley had major organ failure from boozing

The frontman for Canadian punk band Sum 41 says a health scare has forced him to swear off alcohol.
Deryck Whibley has posted on his website that he has been sick for the past few weeks, including spending a month in hospital.
Deryck Whibley
Deryck Whibley, seen above during a visit to New York in 2007, has revealed to fans that he recently spent a month in hospital, as a result of health problems related to alcohol consumption. (AP Photo/) (Jason DeCrow/Associated Press)
He says it's because of the "hard boozing" he has been doing over the years.
Whibley says he was at home one night about a month ago when he collapsed, falling to the ground unconscious.
Whibley, who was once married to singer Avril Lavigne, says his liver and kidneys "collapsed."
He says the health crisis has forced him to make drastic lifestyle changes.
"Needless to say it scared me straight," he said in the posting that is dated May 16.
"I finally realized I can't drink anymore. If I have one drink the docs say I will die."
There is one positive thing that has emerged from his health problems, Whibley said.
"I have my passion and inspiration back for writing music," he writes.
"I already have a few song ideas for new songs. Soon it will be time to start making an album and getting back to touring again."
Sum 41 was formed in 1996. The Ajax, Ont., band has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and has won two Junos.
This image of Deryck Whibley was recently posted to his website, as part of a post describing the toll that alcohol had taken on his health.
This image of Deryck Whibley was recently posted to his website, as part of a post describing the toll that alcohol had taken on his health. (deryckwhibley.net)
The Canadian Press

May 6, 2014

Law Continually Comes down at HIV People to be Prosecuted in Canada

  Bongaini Nyoni, 42, who had unprotected sex with three women despite knowing he was HIV positive, and who infected two of them with the virus, is awaiting sentencing in B.C. Supreme Count in New Westminster. He was convicted of three counts of aggravated sexual assault, and the Crown has asked for a sentence of between 13 to 14 years in prison. A group of infectious disease experts believe cases like his should not be considered criminal.                                                                               


A group of infectious disease experts is pushing back against Canada’s justice system, arguing that non-disclosure of HIV infection to a sexual partner should not be grounds for criminal prosecution.

In a consensus statement presented Friday at the Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS Research in St. John’s, the six HIV experts said the latest scientific evidence shows the risk of sexually transmitting the virus varies from low to zero in many cases.

"We thought it was really important to provide the criminal justice system with a very concise statement about what we view as the risk of transmission and how HIV has really become a chronic, manageable disease," co-author Dr. Mark Tyndall said in an interview.
There have been more than 150 cases in Canada in which people with HIV have been charged, mostly with aggravated sexual assault, for not disclosing their infection — sometimes years after the initial sexual encounter occurred.

“The vast majority of the convictions ... have not resulted in any HIV transmission," said Tyndall, head of infectious diseases at Ottawa Hospital, pointing out that in Canada, even a possibility of transmission can lead to prosecution.

In 1998, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that people with HIV must inform their sex partners of their condition or face a charge of aggravated sexual assault, which carries a 14-year prison sentence on conviction and can lead to a potentially lifelong designation as a sex offender.

That decision was updated in October 2012, when the high court considered two separate cases from Manitoba and Quebec, both dealing with heterosexual interactions.
The justices ruled 9-0 that anyone infected with HIV is not legally obligated to inform sex partners about their condition — as long as they have a low level of the virus in their body due to treatment and they also use a condom.

"Many of the cases are really domestic disputes. Some of the more egregious cases are people (charged) 10 years after the fact. And even in long-term relationships, where they've known that their partner is positive, they go back and charge them for the very first time they had sex," Tyndall said.
While he doesn’t have exact figures, Tyndall estimated that about 75 per cent of the cases involve heterosexual interactions, although the law also applies to men who have sex with men.

The doctors say that having sex using a condom or with effective antiretroviral therapy poses a negligible possibility of passing on the virus.
"With heterosexual transmission, it's about one in a thousand per contact. So I think people have a false impression that if you have sex with somebody who’s HIV-positive you're going to get HIV, and that rarely occurs," Tyndall said.

"A lot of these cases are people who are on treatment or cases where a condom's been used — and people have been convicted for aggravated sexual assault when the risk of them transmitting the HIV virus was essentially zero."
In their statement, the doctors say that being spat on by an HIV-positive person poses no possibility of transmission, and being bitten by an infected person can't spread the virus unless the skin is broken and the person's saliva contains blood. But even in those instances, the possibility of contracting HIV is negligible, they say.

"We have seen that the criminal law is being used in an overly broad fashion against people living with HIV in Canada, in part because the science is not well understood or communicated," co-author Dr. Mona Loutfy, a clinician-scientist at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, said in a release.

"It was time for experts to let the justice system know, clearly and concisely, what science tells us about HIV and its transmission."
The physicians also stress that dramatic treatment advances — primarily the advent of antiretroviral therapy — have transformed HIV into a chronic but manageable condition, no longer the automatic death sentence that it once was.
Their statement, endorsed by the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada, was welcomed by a number of advocacy organizations, including the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.

Executive director Richard Elliott said the law as it stands “really needs to be reined in" because it treats people as rapists — one of the most serious offences in the criminal code — for not disclosing their HIV status.

"We say this is a wild overreach and a misuse of the criminal law because what you see is people who had no harmful intent, who posed no realistic possibility of transmitting HIV, being convicted of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced in some cases to years in prison and designated for life a sex offender.
"That is not right. The law needs to be pulled back,” said Elliott, adding that Crown prosecutors should exercise more restraint in pursuing cases where the circumstances aren't warranted.

“And we need to see judges have a better understanding, including obviously our Supreme Court judges, of the science and of the importance of drawing the line in a more conservative and restrained place."

That's not to say that there is never a case for laying charges for non-disclosure.
UNAIDS and other international bodies have said that if someone transmits HIV intentionally, “that's a circumstance in which criminal prosecution could be legitimate," he said, noting there have been a handful of such cases in Canada.

Tyndall said the issue of non-disclosure between sexual partners is mostly a public health issue, but the current law has "wreaked havoc" with efforts that encourage people at increased risk of infection, such as those in the gay community, to get tested for HIV.
Fear of possible prosecution has meant some people have chosen not to learn their HIV status, “because if they don't know, then they can't get charged," he said.

"The basic idea is that this is a public health problem and it's not a criminal justice problem. And I don't think it belongs in the court system at all."
Follow @SherylUbelacker on Twitter.
———Sheryl Ubelacker, The Canadian Press
Online:
http://www.pulsus.com/cjidmm

April 20, 2014

Montreal AIDS Community Pushes the Envelope with New Prevention Campaign




Poster for ACCM's new Jack & Jacques project
Poster for ACCM’s new Jack & Jacques project
Montreal’s sole English-language HIV/AIDS support group AIDS Community Care Montreal (ACCM) continues to push the envelope with new pro-active HIV prevention campaigns mainly targeting men who have sex with men (MSM).
ACCM has just launched three new campaigns: ACCM+, a support group for HIV-positive youth between the ages of 16 and 29 in the region of Montreal; Kontak, a sexual health initiative that seeks to lower sexually-transmitted infections (STI) transmitted amongst participants of gay and mixed-orientation sex parties; and Jack & Jacques, a new website that promotes HIV and STI testing amongst gay and bisexual men in the region of Montreal.
ACCM+ provides a space for HIV-positive youth to meet other youths living similar experiences. “The program came about from seeing how support groups are geared towards middle-aged people,” says ACCM Communications and Special Events Assistant Jordan Coulombe. “We believe youth discovering their sexuality need an open space to discuss and share their experiences.”
The weekly group meetings are held each Friday from 5 to 9 pm at the ACCM drop-in centre (2075 Plessis Street). Each weekly meeting includes a collectively prepared meal, a discussion space, as well as presentations on topics such as disclosing one’s seropositive status, how to navigate the health care system, budgeting personal finances, cooking lessons and even creative writing and independent publishing workshops.
Find out more at www.accmplus.com.
Kontak, meanwhile, seeks to lower STI transmission amongst participants of gay and mixed-orientation sex parties by coordinating the delivery of safer sex supplies (condoms, lubricants, latex gloves etc.) and pamphlets, as well as wholesale-priced sex toys to organizers of sex parties in the region of Montreal. The Kontak outreach worker also facilitates risk reduction and safer sex information sessions during sex parties and is present to answer sex-related questions in a non-judgmental manner.
“The program started out for men who have sex with men, but it is now directed to all orientations,” says Coulombe. “We have an outreach worker who attends sex parties – he’s been to seven since December – and we’ll also deliver toys to your door!”
Find out more at accmkontak.com.
Finally, in partnership with the Direction de santé publique de Montréal (DSP), ACCM has launched Jack & Jacques, an online resource that sends STI testing reminders to participants’ inboxes on a schedule established by an anonymous quiz about sexual behaviour.
“The quiz is very short, and it will then advise you how often to get tested, and where,” Coulombe explains. “It has a huge resource list of where to get tested across the Island of Montreal.”
Jack & Jacques also equips gay and bisexual men with the knowledge to understand their sex-related risks, their serological status, and prevention needs.
Find out more at www.jacketjacques.ca.
“These new ACCM projects are a concerted effort to foster openness and positivity around sexuality,” says Coulombe, adding, “It’s important that we remain pro-active to reduce STI transmission.”
Volunteer-based ACCM was founded in 1987 and remains Québec’s only English-language community organization providing support and services to people living with HIV/AIDS. For more info, surf to www.accmontreal.org.

April 5, 2014

Gay “Big Brother Canada” Star Kenny Brain Comes Out Gay

by Dan Avery

w-kenny-and-sarah-relief
We’ve been so enamored by Kenny Brain, the bearded gay model prancing around Big Brother Canada in little more than his tighty-whities that we didn’t realize he’s been keeping his sexuality a secret from his housemates.
This week, though, Brain let the cat out of bad—confessing to contestant Sarah Miller he’s been playing straight, and telling fibs about ex-girlfriends, as “a strategic thing.”
“This is the first time in my life I’ve ever hidden who I am—I don’t want people to watch this and do the same thing,” Brain explains in the clip below. “I needed to tell someone or I was going to die.”
Viewers at home knew the truth, as Brain was honest in his private confessionals, but theVancouver Sun’s Ruth Myles took him to task for lying to his housemates:
Kenny might be doing it for the game, but he’s also sending a message to viewers of the show, which skew young, that being gay would hold him back.
For decades, the LGTBQ community has fought for basic human rights, for recognition that one’s sexuality shouldn’t be grounds for discrimination. Kenny is taking those hard-won rights and shoving them back in the closet. And that’s not right.
Gary Levy, who was out and proud on Big Brother Canada’s first season, thinks we should cut the boy some slack: “Gay rights and issues are very important, but we have to remember this is Big Brother Canada,” says Levy. “If Kenny is choosing not to be out, it’s because it’s a game.”So I wouldn’t be too hard on Kenny because of what he’s decided.”
What do you think? Is all fair in love and war—or is he sending the wrong message? While you ponder that, enjoy some more beefcake shots of Mr. Brain.
kenny brain big brother canada
kenny brain
kenny brain 2
kenny brain 3
kenny brain 1 kenny brain 2 

February 22, 2014

Canadians Protest Russia’s Anti Gay Laws





When Russia passed its controversial law banning the spread of gay propaganda last summer, it created a wave of anxiety and outrage that spread throughout the world and onto Canadian shores, as revealed in documents obtained by CBC News.

Canadians — with our same-sex marriage laws, our pride parades and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms — condemned the Russian anti-gay laws. In an August 2013 interview, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said it is "an incitement to intolerance, which breeds hate. And intolerance and hate breed violence."

4 gay activists arrested by Russians as Sochi Games open

Olympic sponsors tread softly around Russia's anti-gay law

Activists take on Russia's anti-gay law

More recently, a Canadian institute for diversity created a cheeky video with a message that the Olympics were always a little gay, illustrating that we could have a little fun in standing up for human rights.

But Canadians' protests began much earlier and quieter — in written letters and emails sent to government officials almost as soon as the Russian law was passed.

Documents obtained by CBC News through an access to information request reveal a whole swath of correspondence between concerned citizens and Minister of Sport Bal Gosal. They're only a sampling, as the documents contain mostly notes to Gosal and not to representatives from other relevant departments.

Altogether, the government responded to more than 200 emails and letters from the public, according to Foreign Affairs spokesperson Beatrice Fenelon.

The emails revolved around themes of shared humanity and anger against purported hatred and discrimination. 

"I cannot stand quiet about this issue," said one Aug. 7, 2013, email. "I am not gay, however I am a human being."

It attached Stephen Fry's open letter to U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, comparing the Sochi Olympics to the 1936 Berlin Games, and the anti-gay laws with Nazi Germany's persecution of Jews. 

The safety of Canadian athletes was also a concern. 

Another email referred to retired hockey star Sarah Vaillancourt, about how it was possible for her to be arrested and detained for two weeks before being sent back to Canada. 

"Rest assured she is not the only LGBT member of the Canadian Olympic Team," the email read.

Passionate pleas to government

Soon after the anti-gay law was passed, Russian officials did tell the International Olympic Committee that it would not discriminate against homosexuals during the Games. 

But many Canadians demanded an Olympic boycott.

"Will the government of Canada stand up for what it says it believes in, human rights and equality. Will the Canadian government stand up for human rights and boycott the 2014 Olympic games in Russia?" asked one of the earliest emails, dated July 9.

"The Olympic spirit is under assault. If Canada will not boycott, it needs to lead the world with a strong substantive message," read another.

Others determined a boycott would deprive Canadian athletes their chance to compete, saying "athletes are being used to promote other political agendas."

One person instead called for the cancellation of purchases from Russia and "other anti-gay countries" which might supply equipment to the 2015 Pan Am Games to be held in Toronto. (Gosal's office referred that person to Ontario Minister of Sport Michael Chan).

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association also called on Canada to pressure Russia into rescinding its legislation, as well as comply with international human rights law that requires nations to ensure equal rights for all citizens. 

Or at the very least, to take the opportunity at the Sochi Games "to publicly express support for LGBTQ people."

Not just human rights, but Canadian values

And, mostly, the emails invoked a sense of patriotism, that action on the part of government would not only signal a respect for human rights but reflect instinctive Canadian values. 

"I am a proud Canadian," opened one email. "I love my Edmonton Oilers and having a few cold ones while camping with my friends — just like millions of my countrymen.

"Our athletes aren't just representing our country — they are representing what our country stands for and believes in," it continued. Competing in Russia means athletes are "asked to compete in a place that is contrary to those values."

Another said that as one of the first countries in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, "and as a country that guarantees the rights of its LGBTQ citizens, Canada must stand clearly against the recent homophobic attacks in Russia."

For their efforts, the email writers received responses from Gosal, slightly personalized but largely containing carefully constructed talking points and no promises, according to the documents. 

They acknowledged the "development in Russia is extremely troubling" and that the government raised its concerns directly with Russian authorities. But in addressing demands for official action and a possible boycott, the minister of sport reminded people the Canadian Olympic Committee — a national, private, not-for-profit organization — is the one responsible for all aspects of Canada's involvement. 

As the world's athletes descended on Sochi, slipped inside the Olympic bubble and kicked into competition mode, thoughts of discrimination and human rights abuses largely fell by the wayside. 

But this week, videos surfaced of Russian security officers attacking members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot with whips as they attempted to protest, right in front of the Sochi 2014 sign in the Olympic Village. 

The IOC said it was "very unsettling," but had also said "venues are not the places to have demonstrations." 

Canadians are still left to wonder whether the pen really is mightier than the sword.
By Trinh Theresa Do

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