Canada: Foreign Affairs Minister brushes off criticism over pro-LGBT stance

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Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, has brushed off an attack from a conservative women’s group which said his pro-gay stance over the situation in Russia was not representative of Canadian citizens.

Mr Baird spoke today from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to say that political and religious freedoms, rights of women and sexual minorities are Canadian values which the government promotes globally, and which are supported by a majority of Canadians.

He was responding to a Canadian conservative women’s group which accused him of taking advantage of his position in order to defend gay rights, after he spoke out last week against recently introduced Russian anti-gay laws.

Mr Baird spoke out last week to condemn recently introduced anti-gay laws in Russia as “hateful”, and said the law, which prohibits the “promotion” of homosexuality could incite violence.

Vice president of REAL Women of Canada, Gwendolyn Landolt, released a statement saying that Mr Baird’s remarks were “highly offensive”, to conservative taxpayers.

President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.

In particular, he noted comments by Russia’s sports minister that the law will definitely be enforced during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, 2014.

Mr Baird recently attacked what he deemed ”offensive” and “mean-spirited” statements on the website of a Christian group which received federal funding for work in Uganda.

John Baird, had previously spoken out against plans for an anti-gay law which includes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” in Uganda, a bill which returned to parliament when it reconvened earlier this month.