Joly wants to reprimand Russian ambassador over anti-LGBTQ posts
Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly has asked her ministry to summon the Russian ambassador, following social media posts against the LGBTQ community.
The Russian Embassy in Ottawa posted in the last few days, on Twitter and Telegram, a message indicating that the West was interfering in Russia’s family values and stressing that a family can only be formed of a man, a woman and children. The embassy also linked images of a crossed-out rainbow flag and Russian Orthodox icons of Adam and Eve with its message.
One of the messages denounces the fact that Canada « confuses the concepts of individual sexual preferences and universal human rights » and resumes an old amalgam with pedophilia. The first post was posted on November 24, just days after five people were killed in a shooting at an LGBTQ bar in Colorado.
The messages came as Russia recently expanded a ban on exposing children to what Moscow considers « gay propaganda ». Authorities can therefore now charge a Russian citizen for an act they believe could “incite” an adult to be gay or transgender.
Canada was one of 33 countries to sign a joint statement condemning the law, prompting the Russian Embassy to retaliate. “Our country does not interfere in the internal affairs of Canada,” the embassy wrote, and Moscow expects the “same respectful attitude towards the legislative process in Russia” from Ottawa.
“No discrimination in Russia”
Despite extensive documentation of the persecution of LGBTQ people in Russia, including disappearances in Chechnya, the embassy maintains that « there is no discrimination in Russia with regard to the rights of sexual and other minorities. »
In response to the first Twitter post, Sports Minister Pascale St-Onge, who is a lesbian, called Russia’s treatment of LGBTQ people « shameful and a violation of fundamental human rights. »
The Russian Embassy responded with a photo of the Russian Imperial Romanov family, asking Ms. St-Onge: “please think about and explain how you appeared in this world”. The family photo shows the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, his wife and their five children, all murdered by Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1918.
The embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Twitter, Monday noon, Minister St-Onge wrote “I am deeply offended by anti-LGBTQ messages from Russians on Canadian soil. It is unacceptable for a foreign dignitary to make hateful statements that go directly against our Canadian values”.
Asked about it at a press briefing in Ottawa, Minister St-Onge welcomed the wish of her colleague Joly to summon the ambassador. “We ask for the respect of the people who are at home on this subject,” she said.
Minister Joly’s office demands that the publications be withdrawn. « Unsurprisingly, the Russians have once again chosen hate propaganda, » spokeswoman Maeva Proteau wrote. “We absolutely cannot tolerate this rhetoric, let alone the comment that followed Minister St-Onge’s response. This is an attack on Canadian values of acceptance and tolerance. »
If Global Affairs Canada were indeed to summon Ambassador Oleg Stepanov, it would be the third time this year. The federal Liberal government has already stated that it has no intention of ordering the closure of the Russian Embassy, as it wishes to maintain its own diplomatic presence in Moscow.
Maria Popova, who holds the Jean Monnet Chair in European Law at McGill University, says Moscow has increasingly embraced Orthodox Christian nationalist rhetoric, which includes a « clash of worldviews » with the West.
« LGBT rights are actually a big motivation » for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, she said. “They constantly talk about how Ukraine has gay soldiers in its ranks — that it’s part of the contamination, so to speak, of Ukraine by the West. It’s part of the narrative they’re using to make this war look defensive, which of course it isn’t. »
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