"human rights for minorities not up for bargain"

A good friend who is both gay and Muslim - and who appears in this blog with some frequency! - has alerted me to the Muslim Canadian Congress, a grassroots, progressive Muslim association. If you have a moment, check out their website for their impressive (and impeccable) set of beliefs. Similar to the progressive Catholic website I cited recently, I am always heartened to see religion used in the service of peace, tolerance and humanity.

The MCC welcomes the legislation that re-defines marriage to include same-sex partners, and urges Muslims and other minority groups to stand in solidarity with gays and lesbians. In a recent press conference in Ottawa, MCC president Rizwana Jafri, said:
It is incumbent upon us, as a minority, to stand up in solidarity with Canada’s gays and lesbians despite the fact that many in our community believe our religion does not condone homosexuality. . . . This legislation is not about religion; it is about fundamental and universal human rights that are a guarantee that all Canadians, irrespective of their religious or ethnic background, feel part of the same family. While, within this family, we may agree to disagree we must respect each other and treat others with dignity that is a hallmark of civil society.

[The press release continues:] Ms. Jafri appealed to social conservative Muslim organizations to stop being used by the Conservative Party who are using this controversy to score political points by spreading fear among racial minorities.

She appealed to Prime Minister Paul Martin to make sure his caucus supports the legislation and are not allowed to wriggle out of their responsibility to respect Human Rights and the decisions of majority of Provincial Courts.
Tarek Fatah, host of the CTS-TV show "The Muslim Chronicle", criticized the fear mongering by some religious institutions against same-sex marriage:
The religious institutions who are spreading fear among their congregations are not being honest about this law. No mosque, church, temple, or synagogue will ever have to conduct a same-sex marriage if they don’t wish to. The guarantee of the freedom of religion in our constitution and the legislation presented today ensure that every Canadian will continue to have the right to practice their religion as they deem fit. However, freedom of religion cannot come at the cost of limiting the rights of other groups in society. . . . The hate mongering against gays and lesbians must be stopped. Places of worship should never be permitted to demean a section of the community who are a minority.


RobfromAlberta said...

It is truly a dilemma for the Liberals, they have long protrayed themselves as the defenders of minority rights while at the same time, being the party of immigrants. In the past, these two directives have been easy to reconcile, but the same-sex marriage debate has suddenly thrown that concordance into chaos as some of the most vocal opponents of gay marriage are ethnic minorities such as Muslims and Sikhs. Much has been made of the opposition to gay marriage by most of the Conservative caucus, but the real threat to the legislation is the significant number of Liberal MPs who oppose it. If it fails to pass in Parliament (an unlikely scenario), it will be because Liberals themselves couldn't unite on the issue.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

It's kind of a pointless debate up here anyway. 7 out of 13 provinces and territories already have gay marriage regardless of what the feds decide.

I can't see how two gay people getting married threatens my upcoming marriage. Why do I care?

Anyway, it will all be over soon. The Bill has already been introduced, and the NDP and Bloc are going to vote with the government. It's pretty much a done deal.

L-girl said...

I think it's very significant that Canada pass this law on the federal level, both for the remaining provinces, and symbolically. Becoming only the third nation on the planet to legalize same-sex marriage puts Canada at the forefront of civil rights. I see it as an affirmation of egalitarian values.

It's true that same-sex marriage doesn't hurt hetero folks, but it's more than that. Liberal white Americans wanted to see Jim Crow laws end, even though they were unaffected by them.