Jason Kenney fought to prevent AIDS victims’ lovers from hospital visits

Jason Kenney of the United Conservative Party

Jason Kenney, the leader of the opposition in Alberta, Canada, is facing scrutiny of his anti-LGBT record after he posted a World AIDS Day message.

After the tweet from Kenney, the leader of the right-wing United Conservative Party, lawyer Kyle Morrow responded with a clip of a speech the politician gave in 2000.

In the audio clip, Kenney brags about his actions as an evangelical Christian student in the US, campaigning to overturn a 1989 San Francisco law that would have extended domestic partnerships to same-sex couples.

Kenney recalls: “I became president of the pro-life group in my campus and helped to lead an ultimately successful initiative petition, which led to a referendum which overturned the first gay spousal law in North America, in 1989 in San Francisco.

“I fought a lot of battles there and ended up becoming closer to the heart of the church.”

In 1989, at the height of the AIDS crisis, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved rights that extended “the same hospital visitation rights” and “bereavement leave policy” to people in domestic partnerships—including same-sex couples.

A New York Times report from 1989 noted that this was significant for gay couples amid the AIDS crisis. “Both of these benefits are crucial issues to San Francisco’s gay community, which has been hit hard by the AIDS epidemic,” a report from May 1989 read.

However, anti-LGBT campaigners forced the issue to a public ballot in a bid to repeal it. Kenney was one of the people that campaigned against the ruling.

In a statement to VICE, a spokesperson for Kenney said: “Mr Kenney’s views on these issues have evolved since then, as have society’s.”

But Morrow told the outlet that Kenney “has spent his entire political career fighting against LGBTQ rights” and “never apologized for his treatment of the community.”

He added: “If Mr. Kenney has truly evolved, he should apologise to the individuals who were prevented from visiting their dying partners in the hospital.”

Jason Kenney, the leader of Alberta's United Conservative Party

Jason Kenney, the leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party.

Jason Kenney has faced scrutiny over his anti-LGBT beliefs before

Kenney previously faced action over comments inferring that students who join gay-straight alliances (GSAs) should be outed to their parents.

Speaking about GSAs in 2017, he said: “I think that parents have a right to know what’s going on with their kids in the schools unless the parents are abusive.

“I don’t think it’s right to keep secrets from parents about challenges their kids are going through… I think parents have a right to know what their kids are doing in school.”

He later clarified: “I trust teachers, principals and school counsellors to exercise their judgement about such matters, and that there should be a presumption that most parents are loving and caring, seeking only what is best for their children.

“The law should neither force schools to release information to parents, nor should it create an adversarial relationship between parents and their children.”

Jason Kenney declined to expel member who compared Pride flag to Nazi swastika

The United Conservative Party leader recently dodged calls to expel a member who compared the Pride flag to a Nazi swastika.

John Carpay, who heads the anti-LGBT legal group Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, stirred outrage with the remarks at an event on November 11.

At a conference hosted by far-right outlet Rebel Media, Carpay described the rainbow flag as a “totalitarian” symbol akin to the swastika or the hammer and sickle.

A spokesperson for Kenney dodged calls to suspend Carpay, telling the outlet: “Of course we do not believe the rainbow flag has any equivalency to fascism and communism—ideologies that have been responsible for the deaths of well over 100 million people.

“The UCP is a big-tent party that supports the rule of law, equality of all before the law, and protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of all. In that light, the UCP hosted Pride breakfasts in both Edmonton and Calgary this year.”