Question Period: Human Rights in Uganda

By: The Hon. Pierre Dalphond

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Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Senator Gold, last week, on March 21, Uganda’s parliament passed a new law, which was described as the world’s most repressive sexual diversity legislation.

Possible penalties have been increased — up to and including the death penalty — for, and I quote, “aggravated homosexuality.” Identifying as a member of the LGBTQ+ community will be a crime. In addition, anyone who fails to report a homosexual person would be subject to a six-month prison sentence.

Uganda has become the most homophobic state in the world. What does the government intend to do about such a discriminatory and backward law?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you, senator.

The Government of Canada is deeply concerned about the legislation approved by the Ugandan parliament last week.

As you know, both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs strongly and immediately condemned this bill on March 22. The bill seeks to broadly violate the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Uganda’s LGBTQ2+ community. That is unacceptable.

The government stands with the LGBTQ+ community in Uganda and around the world and is calling on the government of Uganda to repeal that law. I would like to add that Canada unequivocally opposes the use of the death penalty in all cases, everywhere. This form of punishment is inconsistent with human rights and human dignity.

Senator Dalphond: I understand that our policies may be similar to United States policy. John Kirby, the United States National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, said last Tuesday that U.S. foreign policy supports expanded human rights throughout the world. He said that they:

. . . are never going to shy away or be bashful about speaking up for those rights and for . . . individuals to live as they deem fit, as they want to live.

He added, “And that’s something that’s a core part of our foreign policy, and it will remain so.”

Is that the case for Canadian foreign policy?

Senator Gold: Thank you.

Canadian foreign policy has always been — from the very early days — one that promotes human rights. Indeed, the formation of the Charter — a universal human rights charter — was, importantly, a product of many, but also of John Humphrey, an eminent Canadian. It remains a cornerstone of Canadian foreign policy, and our government will continue to speak up loudly and proudly on behalf of all those who are oppressed.

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