[Imc-beirut] [Fwd: [chr] Muslim group supports gay rights]
ghassan at riseup.net
Sun Feb 6 17:52:48 PST 2005
Human Rights for Minorities not up for bargain
MCC urges Martin, Layton and Duceppe:
Tour country to sell message of human rights and tolerance
Muslim Canadian Congress endorses Same-Sex Marriage legislation
OTTWA, February 1, 2005 - The Muslim Canadian Congress, a
Toronto-based grassroots organization, has welcomed the legislation
presented by Justice Minister Irvin Cotler that re-defines marriage to
include same-sex partners, and has urged Muslims and other minority
groups to stand in solidarity with gays and lesbians.
Addressing a press conference in Ottawa this morning, Rizwana Jafri,
president of the MCC said Muslim Canadians have experienced life as a
marginalized minority and have relied on the Canadian Charter to fight
for their right to be treated as equal citizens. "It is incumbent upon
us, as a minority, to stand up in solidarity with Canada's gays and
lesbians despite the fact that many in our community believe our
religion does not condone homosexuality," she added.
"This legislation is not about religion; it is about fundamental and
universal human rights that are a guarantee that all Canadians,
irrespective of their religious or ethnic background, feel part of the
same family. While, within this family, we may agree to disagree we
must respect each other and treat others with dignity that is a
hallmark of civil society, Ms. Jafri added.
Ms. Jafri appealed to social conservative Muslim organizations to stop
being used by the Conservative Party who are using this controversy to
score political points by spreading
fear among racial minorities.
She appealed to Prime Minister Paul Martin to make sure his caucus
supports the legislation and are not allowed to wriggle out of their
responsibility to respect Human Rights and the decisions of majority
of Provincial Courts.
Ms. Jafri thanked the NDP leader Jack Layton for enforcing party
discipline and not allowing dissent on this important matter.
She called on Paul Martin to invite NDP leader Jack Layton and Gilles
Duceppe of the Bloc Québécois to tour the country to build support for
this historic legislation and present a common front on human rights.
Tarek Fatah, host of the CTS-TV show, The Muslim Chronicle, criticized
the fear mongering started by some religious institutions against
"The religious institutions who are spreading fear among their
congregations are not being honest about this law. No mosque, church,
temple, or synagogue will ever have to conduct a same-sex marriage if
they don't wish to. The guarantee of the freedom of religion in our
constitution and the legislation presented today ensure that every
Canadian will continue to have the right to practice their religion as
they deem fit. However, freedom of religion cannot come at the cost of
limiting the rights of other groups in society.
Mr. Fatah said that under thinly veiled camouflage of cultural and
religious practices, a message of hate and homophobia was being
cultivated. "The hate mongering against gays and lesbians must be
stopped. Places of worship should never be permitted to demean a
section of the community who are a minority, he added.
Barrister Arif Raza told the press conference that he understood the
concerns of some Muslims who are worried that allowing same-sex
marriage will dilute the institution of marriage, but emphasized that
those asking for Prime Minister Martin to use the Notwithstanding
Clause should understand that one day, the rights of Muslims too could
be compromised if the using the Notwithstanding clause became a
"I urge Canada's Muslim community and other minority communities to
show solidarity with Canada's gays and lesbians even if they have
reservations about homosexuality. We don't have to agree with each
other to stand up for the human rights of those with whom we disagree,
Mr. Raza added.
He asked Canadians to be generous, kind and compassionate in this
matter. By supporting the rights of a minority, we will be able to
walk with our heads held high among the nations of this earth. "Today
we have an opportunity to stand tall and demonstrate that fighting for
human rights is only worthwhile when we fight it for the other, not
just for ourselves," said Arif Raza.
For more information, please contact:
Rizwana Jafri at 416-830-5067
Tarek Fatah at 416-953-1798
or Arif Raza at 416-558-4777
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