Liberal MP Bob Rae has just released a new book called Exporting Democracy: The Risk and Rewards of Pursuing a Good Idea, in which he looks at issues like freedom, human rights and federalism. I caught up with Bob Rae after Question Period today to ask him about some of what he’s been saying about the book, and queer rights.
Q: At your book signing last night, you were talking about how gay rights has changed Canada in the last few decades, and I wanted to know more.
A: It’s in the book – there’s a section where I talk about it. I think that it is a fact that if you consider the political culture, the legal culture, the life in the last fifty years, I think one of the most dramatic changes and transformations we’ve seen has been the common understanding that we’ve all arrived at about the celebration about sexual identity.
We’ve gone through the decriminalisation, to it being a privacy issue, to being seen as primarily a legal issue, and then I think in the last 15, 20, 25 years, it’s been much more about celebrating, and finally coming to the full legal recognition around gay marriage and so on.
As a human right, for Canadians it’s been an important transformation, and I think when we look around, what’s happening in the world, and look at the degree to which there are many country in which being gay is still a crime, participating in gay sex is a crime, having gay relationships are criminal, and the brutality with which gay people are treated in many parts of the world. I said that I believe that Canada’s human rights assessments that we make on an annual basis should become public, that our country-by-country assessments should be made public, and how gays are treated should be very much part of that public assessment and public accountability. That’s starting to happen now – the Dutch are doing a bit of that in their diplomacy. There’s now more international knowledge and recognition of where the real problems lie. We’re accepting, as a country, a number of people as refugees who are refugees primarily because of their sexual orientation and how that’s been treated.