Immigrant guide incomplete

A new guide for immigrants who are applying for Canadian citizenship lacks any mention of gay rights after an editing job by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, CBC News reported on Tuesday.

An earlier version of the 63-page document contained basic facts about gay rights in Canada, including a mention that homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969 and same-sex marriage was legalized in 2005.

The revised document, called “Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship,” came out in November. Recent discovery of private draft copies has revealed the fact that Kenney struck out sections pertaining to gay rights.

Kenney’s spokesman stated the choice was made in an effort to curtail the guide. The previous publication of Discover Canada, produced in 1995, contained no mention of any kind of marriage.

On Wednesday, Kenney—who has been a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage—denied crossing out the sections.

Material outlining gay rights is an important guide of any citizen’s guide to Canada, and should have been included in the document.

Regardless of whether Kenney’s motive was political or simply meant to conserve space, he was misguided in removing these sections.

The few brief clauses addressing gay rights in the earlier edition of Discover Canada pointed out essential information, such as the fact that it’s illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation in Canada. Many immigrants are coming from countries where this may not be the case and it’s important to bring them up to speed with the expectations of our laws.

Kenney’s choice wasn’t just a neglectful omission, but an active removal of content. As a political leader, Kenney is expected to push his own partisan agenda. But it’s discouraging our national citizenship guide reflects his deliberate omission, given Canada’s wider reputation as a country that embraces diversity and acceptance.

Facts about gay rights need not be included in the guide in a self-congratulatory way, nor should Canadians parade the fact that same-sex marriage is legalized here as a way to prize our ethical advancement. Issues of homophobia are still unfortunately common, despite legal progress. But it’s important to lay out the basic facts for newcomers.

Ideally, homosexual equality would become a part of the status quo, without needing to be pointed out in a guide. But in the meantime, it’s something those who wish to make Canada their home should know.

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