Canada Issues Warning to Gays
July 25, 2005
By Ben Thompson, Ottawa Bureau
OTTAWA—The Canadian government
Monday issued a warning to gay travelers following the refusal of some
governments—including the US—to recognize Canadian same-sex marriages and
in the aftermath of the executions of two gay men in Iran.
“As we welcome new legislation in Canada that extends
access to civil marriage to same-sex couples, we must also acknowledge that
many countries still do not permit such marriages,” said Foreign Affairs
Minister Pierre Pettigrew.
“Same-sex couples should know what this will mean for
them when traveling internationally.”
The government has also updated its Web site (http://www.voyage.gc.ca)
to include warnings for gays and lesbians about countries where gay sex is
illegal. Under the section on Iran it says, “Homosexuality is a criminal
offence. Those convicted may be sentenced to lashing, a prison sentence,
Last week, two gay Iranian teenagers were publicly
executed in the northern city of Mashhad.
Travelers having anything in their luggage to suggest
they are gay could find themselves arrested.
Pettigrew said gay Canadians traveling abroad should
consult the site before leaving the country.
Married couples will also find that wedding documents
could be of little value to them.
“We cannot take for granted that rights that are
recognized in Canada will be recognized or accepted abroad,” said Pettigrew.
“Attempting to enter a country as a same-sex married
couple may result in refusal by local officials.”
The first gay couple to be legally married in Canada
discovered that in 2003 when they tried to enter the US.
Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell were turned back at
Toronto’s Pearson International Airport by US Customs and Immigration
officers when they attempted to board a flight to Georgia.
US Customs and Immigration pre-check people traveling to
the US at most major Canadian airports.
The couple was rejected after filling out a form
identifying themselves as a family.
“Whether visiting or moving to another country,
Canadians should always take the time to learn about the laws of the country
for which they are destined before leaving home,” Pettigrew said.
Some US states will do recognize same-sex partners.
Should one partner be hospitalized there is no guarantee that the other
partner would receive any rights over medical care.
Canada last week became one of only four countries to
legalize same-sex marriage.
The Netherlands, Belgium and Spain are the other three.
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