OTTAWA - An evangelical organization that describes homosexuality as a "perversion" and a "sin" is receiving funding from the Government of Canada for its work in Uganda, where gays and lesbians face severe threats.
The federal government has denounced virulent homophobia in that East African country and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has condemned plans for an anti-gay bill that could potentially include the death penalty for homosexuals.
At the same time the government is providing $544,813 in funding for Crossroads Christian Communications — an Ontario-based evangelical group that produces television programming — to help dig wells, build latrines and promote hygiene awareness in Uganda through 2014.
Until Tuesday, the organization's website carried a list of "sexual sins" deemed to be "perversion": "Turning from the true and/or proper purpose of sexual intercourse; misusing or abusing it, such as in pedophilia, homosexuality and lesbianism, sadism, masochism, transvestism, and bestiality."
Lower down the page, the group asks sinners to "repent."
"God cares too much for you (and all of His children) to leave such tampering and spiritual abuse unpunished," according to the group's website.
Just hours after The Canadian Press contacted the group to ask a spokesperson about the site, the page in question disappeared from public view.
The organization is being funded by the Canadian International Development Agency. Just a few days ago the Quebec government announced its desire to create its own parallel agency because it no longer supported CIDA's policy choices.
When the minister responsible for CIDA, Julian Fantino, was made aware of the situation on Wednesday, both he and a CIDA spokeswoman said funding is doled out "on merit."
But once the Crossroads story became public Sunday, the minister sent out a comment on Twitter Sunday night.
"While original content (of the Crossroads' website page) is down, I have asked to review this organization before further payments are made," he wrote.
This particular CIDA funding may also conflict with the federal government's own statements.
Last October, Baird denounced abuses against gays and lesbians and specifically singled out Uganda in a speech at an international conference in Quebec City.
"We will speak out on the issues that matter to Canadians — whether it is the role and treatment of women around the world, or the persecution of gays," Baird told the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference.
"Canada will speak out."
In that speech, Baird shared the story of a Ugandan gay-rights advocate who was bludgeoned to death in his own home.
That speech provoked an angry reaction from the head of the Ugandan delegation, Rebecca Kadaga, who accused Baird of "arrogance" and "ignorance" and demanded an apology.
Crossroads defends its position on homosexuality as grounded in scripture.
"Crossroads' views on sexuality are informed by our Christian faith and values," spokeswoman Carolyn Innis told The Canadian Press in an email.
She said the projects funded by CIDA do not include evangelical work and are focused on specific objectives.
On the group's website, under the section "Who We Are," the group describes its mission the following way — "Our motivation: To communicate a visible expression of God's love, and contribute to the transformation of lives around the world."
But that doesn't mean the group is getting involved in Uganda's homosexuality debate, Innis said.
"It has not been a practice of Crossroads to influence matters of policy in countries in which we are completing relief or development projects," she said.
Steve Foster, president of the Quebec LGBT Council, said the federal government should stop funding groups like Crossroads.
"It's unacceptable that the government would accept that kind of organization as an international-co-operation organization," Foster said.
"Taxpayers' money should not be used to finance religious groups working abroad, who furthermore contribute to the creation of discriminatory — even inhumane and dangerous — policy."
Foster calls it a "dangerous" shift from the government toward using religious groups to perform international development work.
He's not alone to perceive a trend.
A study by the Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid concluded that, between 2005 and 2010, the funding for religious non-government organizations increased 42 per cent. Secular groups saw an increase of five per cent.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been asked about that disparity.
"We consider the efficiency of projects,'' Harper replied during a Montreal news conference last month. ''(We) do not consider the religion of groups promoting these projects."
As for Crossroads' opinion on homosexuality, the government sought to keep its distance.
"Our government does not endorse these particular views," Rick Roth, a Baird spokesman, said in an email.
"Canada's views are clear — we have been strongly opposed to the criminalization of homosexuality or violence against people on the basis of their sexual orientation."
An anti-gay bill was returned to the order paper for debate in Uganda's parliament last week. The MP who tabled it has spoken of replacing the death penalty with prison sentences, but it's unclear what the final version of the legislation might look like.
Related on HuffPost:
From Scott G. Brown aka Gene Brown, a member and participant of the 1969 Stonewall Inn raid and riots: "My ailing health has prevented me from making this 1,200 mile trip by Bus for next week's Pride Parade, but I can, truthfully, say that I was there in June 2011."
From Ashley Bartolome: "I took these photos at the Pride Parade in Washington, DC on June 9, 2012." What I love about pride is not only seeing but feeling the acceptance of everyone there. Gays, lesbians, heterosexuals and families attend every year supporting with cheers and smiles. I make it a point to attend pride every year not just for myself, but to give a voice and be a face for all LGBT people who can't speak up due to their closets or fears. I want to show them that it's ok to be who they are and there are countless Americans who accept them. I also like to be there out of respect for the LGBT who have been killed by others - or by their own hands - because of their sexuality.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
From Welton Trindade, journalist and a gay activist: "I took part of Sao Paulo LGBT Parade. The march was realized on Sunday, June 10. That was the 16th edition of the event. Well, I wanted to show my body but a parade, in my opinion, is not just fun! So I've decided to show my muscles and, in the same time, to send a good message. The solution: to write 'Poder gay' (or 'Gay power') on my chest! It was a great experience!"
Vorstand, the organization team from the Zurich Pride Festival is meeting Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga, from left: Chriss, Patrik, Nathalie, Simonetta Sommaruga and David.
From Eva Adams: "Hundreds of thousands came out to celebrate gay rights in Berlin this year and I had the privilege of riding on a hetero-leaning wagon in support...It was extra special to land at the Reichstag with tens of thousands behind us celebrating love and tolerance. I'm not able to pick a best photo but needed to share. Thanks for your project!"
From Marilena: "I was at this year's national italian Gay Pride in Bologna! It was my first pride and it was amazing! I felt surrounded by so much love and most of all I felt safe and proud of who I am! Baci!"
From Evert Hermans & Birger De Rese: "We've been married for 4 years now. We're proud to have in Belgium legalized same sex marriage!"
From Zafiro Hiliada: "The picture was taken during the first ever pride organized in my home town Thessaloniki, Greece which was my first pride as well! About 2,000 people turned up not to mention all those who came out in the streets and cheered us on! There are only two pride festivals in the country. This and the one in Athens. It was truly magical! The monument in the picture is called the White Tower, and its the city's most recognizable monument."
Seoul, South Korea
From Nate Meyer: "I am an American teaching English here in South Korea, I recently
West Hollywood, California
From married couple Andi & Carissa: "Our pup Simon enjoyed his first Pride Parade in West Hollywood on June 10!"
From Abby Lavin, a volunteer with shanghaiPRIDE, who shares this image of a "Pink Picnic" (photo taken by Linda Li)
Tel Aviv, Israel
From The Israel Project
Gran Canaria, Spain
From Chris Wadsworth: "This is (left to right) myself, Gareth and Daniel at Maspalomas GayPride 2012 in Gran Canaria, Spain. The whole island (and thousands from all over Europe) turn up for the week long event every May to celebrate and meet LGBT people from all over the world!"
From Memo Macas: "It was the first time that I ever participated in the event and I really enjoyed it, next year I'll go with my boyfriend to Mexico City's Pride Parade."
Baton Rouge, Louisana
From Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge: "We made history in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Saturday, June 23, with the first ever statewide Equality March. Here's a picture of both the youngest and the oldest marchers!"
From Daniel Douglass, founder/director of Flaggots: "Here's a photo of FLAGGOTS performing to Whitney Houston's 'I Wanna Dance with Somebody' at Philly Pride, June 10. FLAGGOTS are a group of friends from the color guard and drum corps community that come together to celebrate Pride in a most fabulous way. Founded in 1991, they have performed in at least one pride event a year for 23 consecutive years.'
From Karen Belgrad: "At my friend's apartment, overlooking the parade route, he casually tosses out beads...and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel catches them with ease! OK, and a little lunging!)"
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sergeant Don Mueller and LAX Airport Police Officer David Ayala celebrate pride as they prepare to march with over 60 other openly gay officers in the 2012 West Hollywood CSW Pride Parade.
From Bob Brennan: "Also there was a party at Allah Moana Beach Park. Everybody was gay that day."
From Keli Stooksberry: The picture on the right is my friend Courtney talking to protesters. The picture on the left is of my partner DeAnna and I kissing in front of the protesters. This was my second pride and the first interaction with protesters. I was not surprised but still overwhelmed by their presence in such a wonderful and uplifting celebration. My friend Courtney had one of them speechless by the end of their conversation not by throwing obscenities his way but rather using her knowledge of scripture. Again, I was not surprised that the man she spoke with had no more knowledge of the bible than the words written on his sign but it was priceless to see him have nothing left to say because Courtney was right!
Baton Rouge, Louisana
From John Desselle: "It only took what, 42 years, for Baton Rouge to have a state wide Equality March. Headed up by Capital City Alliance: www.ccabatonrouge.org, we had representatives from all over the state. About 300 people showed up for the march. Most went on to our Baton Rouge Pride Festival which was at LSU Student Union this year."
Queens, New York
From Michael Cruz: "I am the Secretary of the Queens Pride Lions Club. We are the first LGBT Lions Club in NYC. Here is a photo of us marching in the Queens Pride 2012 parade on June 3."
From Teena Lashmore: "Hi from Berlin!"
Melanie Pang (in pink) taking a photo with the men (and "noodles") of Jenni's Noodle House, a Houston favorite.
From William George: "This is me at Indianapolis Pride 2012. I consider myself a Pride aficionado. I love all the togetherness and the fun times. This year's Indianapolis Pride was the largest the city had ever hosted, with the festival expanding to twice the size it was previously. The headliners were Deborah Cox and Cazwell. While I didn't get to see him in person, I snapped this picture next to a promotional poster of him."
Jenny Lee tells us: "I am the girl wearing the rainbow sarong, under the banner that says 'Coming out, coming together.' It was taken in August 22, 2011 during a Wisconsin Pride parade. None of my friends was in the event. I had just finished my run that day when I noticed that something was going on. When I realized it was a LGBTQ Pride event, I went home home, grabbed my sarong that I got in Thailand and jumped right into the parade to show my support and that's why the picture. I had only been in Madison, WI for about 3 months. I moved to the city for grad school. What I noticed about the community is that it's liberal, tolerant and I felt belong...I'm straight and I stand for equality."
From gay superhero: "I didn't manage to be at the parade from the beginning, but that gave me the chance to find myself at the head of the march later, as they were going up Stadiou street. This is a central Athens street that saw a lot of disturbances during recent protests, including the death of three bank employees when their building caught fire. So it was nice to see a pacifist, colorful demonstration for a change."
Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck march in the 2012 West Hollywood CSW Pride Parade with over 60 openly gay peace officers from the LASD, LAPD, FBI and other police departments throughout southern California.
From Melissa: "This is me and my partner Jean. The first picture was taken at Toronto Pride in 2010 -- we are just up on Church Street. Our first pride and we are still very happily together 3 years later!"
Brooklyn, New York
From Bob: "Five-year-old corgi Carter (recently rescued from a shelter in Alabama) steps out Brooklyn to celebrate his first LGBT Pride in New York City."
From right to left: Stephanie (far right) with girlfriend Jackie (left of me) along with best friends Erika and Katie at Philadelphia Pride in front of the Ben Franklin Bridge at Penns Landing.
New York City
Sharon Needles performs at the Barefoot Wine Pride Kick Off Celebration in NYC on June 20.
Happy Gay Pride 2012 from Amarillo, TX -- Route 66 Cadillac Ranch!
Happy Gay Pride 2012 from Amarillo, Texas -- Cadilliac Ranch!
Charleston, West Virginia
From Bob Brennan: "It was a gay (happy) sunny day on O'ahu. First there was a parade from Allah Moana Beach park to Kapiolani Park where there was a celebration. Also there was a party at Allah Moana Beach Park."
Huntington, New York
From Maosung Yao: "I went to [Long Island Pride] with my partner Walter last weekend and we had a good time with our friends as well. The pride was great even thought it was small.
From Adam Barnhardt: "I'm the one with the rainbow mohawk, the one with the Pink hair and football gear is Emilio Cordova, and the one in white with the body paint is Loa Brannigan. We were featured in Metro State's student newspaper for our bizarre homemade outfits and all around theatrical method of showing pride in our true colors."
From Angela Huerta, rider: "First time [Kristin Holloway and I] participated in Dykes on Bikes!"
New York City
Sharon Needles performs at the Barefoot Wine Pride Kick Off Celebration in NYC on June 20.
From Ashley Bartolome: "I want to show them that it's ok to be who they are and there are countless Americans who accept them. I also like to be there out of respect for the LGBT who have been killed by others -- or by their own hands -- because of their sexuality."
The Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) is a multicultural youth agency for youth of all backgrounds with the mission to support youth and their families to live, work, and study with dignity, hope and joy. LAYC staff and youth participants walked in the parade with hand-made tie-dye t-shirts handing out candy and information about LAYC's LGBT support services. We had a fantastic time feeling the love and support of the community.
From Betty Viveros: "I got the greatest experience to participate in my first of many PRIDE festivals in Phoenix, Arizona earlier this year. I went with a group of my closest friends who are all, like myself are huge LGBQT supporters. Walking around shirtless guys and half-naked girls never looked so hot...literally. It hit 100 degrees that weekend!"
New York City
Sharon Needles fans root her on at the Barefoot Wine Pride Kick Off Celebration on June 20.
Providence, Rhode Island
From Mark Peters, who took this photo of Providence's "Nighttime Illuminated Pride Parade" on June 16.
Miss Trans New England