Canada
4 min

Anti-abortion activists reveal their hypocrisy

Apparently 'valuing life' doesn't apply to queers

Henry Morgentaler’s appointment to the Order of Canada has sparked predictable outrage from anti-abortion activists, especially Catholics.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked that the appointment be revoked.

“Far from improving our country, Mr Morgentaler’s actions continue to create controversy and division in our nation,” they said in a statement. “In the name of freedom of choice, he has encouraged the development of a culture of death and has thus attacked the most vulnerable, the unborn.”

The Catholic Archbishop of Edmonton, Richard Smith, wrote in a statement that Morgentaler’s appointment “devalues” the honour and “offends all Canadians who recognize and treasure the precious gift of human life in the womb.”

Father Lucien Larre, a Catholic priest in Coquitlam, BC, who was named to the Order of Canada 25 years ago after founding a group of homes for troubled youth, told the Globe and Mail that he was “trying to make a point that we have to be careful who we give this to,” since it should be “reserved for people who can be models or be inspiring for a majority of Canadians.”

Larre was convicted in 1992 of the common assault of a resident of one of his youth homes and jailed for one day. He was acquitted of nine other charges.

And as for valuing life, apparently that doesn’t have to apply to queer lives. No Christian organizations have called for the appointments to the Order of, for example, the archbishop of Toronto Emmett Carter or Arnold Brown, the 11th general of the Salvation Army, to be revoked.

Yet Carter built a reputation on fighting against gay rights, and Brown was the international leader of an organization that believes homosexuality to be a sin and, wherever it can get away with it, refuses to hire queers or offer domestic partner benefits, and campaigns against gay rights initiatives like same-sex marriage.

But apparently, as long as a religious organization opposes a woman’s control over her body, it doesn’t matter that it wants to deny equality, or cover up child sexual abuse or refuse to apologize for attempted cultural genocide of Canada’s native people.

Of course when it becomes possible to identify a “gay gene” in the womb, then we’ll truly see how committed these extremists are to protecting the “right to life.”

In the meantime, it’s apparent that the majority of Canadians either support Morgentaler’s appointment or just don’t care. Even Stephen Harper and his government have contented themselves by just saying, “We had nothing to do with the decision.”

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Conservative Anglicans are so distraught at the prospect of women and gays being ordained as bishops or married that they’ve entered into secret talks with the Vatican.

So 474 years after Anglicans split from the Catholic church because a fat — or thin, if you believe The Tudors — king wanted to divorce his wife, they’re considering getting back together because two men can now marry each other. I can’t help but wonder what Henry VIII — or for that matter, Sir Thomas More — would have thought of all this. A man for all seasons, indeed.

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The debate over axing the Lord’s Prayer from the Ontario legislature has been resolved with MPPs voting not only to keep the prayer, but to add other prayers each day.

This is not exactly what I was hoping for.

The motion MPPs from all parties voted for called for keeping the Lord’s Prayer and adding a rotating mix of Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Sikh, Jewish and Baha’i prayers, as well as a moment of silence, a native spiritual passage and, worst of all, a non-denominational prayer blessing Queen Elizabeth and her representative in the province.

Even the NDP supported the motion, with Peter Kormos claiming the vote as a triumph over premier Dalton McGuinty.

“McGuinty tried to abolish the Lord’s Prayer and the Opposition stopped him,” Kormos told the Toronto Star. “McGuinty got stopped in his tracks.”

What the fuck are you so proud of, Peter? That you stopped McGuinty from getting rid of a ridiculously anachronistic tradition that ties what should be a body solely concerned with secular matters to outdated, hidebound and overwhelmingly homophobic religions?

Yeah, good job, Peter.

The final vote was 58-0 in favour. McGuinty didn’t even have the balls to show up for the vote.

Secular activist Henry Beissel told the Ottawa Citizen the vote was an attack on the idea of a multicultural society.

“Our legislators don’t understand that they are insulting, degrading and discriminating against those who don’t share their views,” said Beissel, president of Secular Ontario. “A moment of silence is the only respectful way to treat individuals in a multi-faith society.”

But since we’re stuck with this useless prelude to the daily work of government, let me suggest that the legislature should have considered adding the following snippet from the mission statement of Pink Triangle Press (which publishes the Xtra newspapers and this website):

“The will and work to change our downcast state
can only be our own.
We engage our chosen public,
rousing them singly and in numbers
to think and act and grow and fill the world,
to form a movement, fight for change
and, in so doing, change themselves.
We honour lust and seek a world
where sex is valued as a human trait,
no more no less than any other,
and all are free and equal, no matter whom they love.”

Now wouldn’t it be more fun to hear legislators recite that than “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done?”

Does anyone have any other suggestions of queer-friendly passages they would like to hear the legislature read out?

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With the Fringe Festival taking place in Toronto and in other Canadian cities over the next little while, I’m reminded of a quote from George Bernard Shaw:

“You should have to pay to go to church and the theatre ought to be free.”