MONTREAL, September 18, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told a gathering in Montreal on Friday that Canada will continue to promote homosexual rights as a key component of foreign policy.

The minister, speaking at a luncheon held by the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, said he is “aggressively” pursuing what he called Canada’s “principled, values-based” foreign policy.

As part of that effort, Baird said that he is working with western countries to promote homosexual rights in countries around the world where “violent mobs … seek to criminalize homosexuality,” and to make Canada a welcoming haven for homosexual refugees.

“We’re working with allies like the EU and the United States on encouraging the decriminalization of homosexuality,” Baird said.

“We’re working with all political parties in the House of Commons to fight those who restrict the basic human rights, from Kampala to St. Petersburg.

In his address Baird mentioned the brutal murder of Uganadan homosexual activist David Kato as an example of the dangers faced by open homosexuals in some countries. Kato died after being bludgeoned to death by a homosexual prostitute in a dispute over payment.

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Baird also highlighted the efforts of his colleague, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney, who he said “has been working to make Canada a safe haven for Iran’s persecuted gay community.”

Kenney said that Canada has welcomed more than 100 homosexual refugees from Iran since 2009, in an interview with Postmedia News.

Noting that “Turkey is tolerant towards homosexuality,” and is thus a close destination for homosexuals leaving Iran, Kenney said, “One of the things I did was to increase our resettlement target for refugees out of Turkey in general, partly to respond to the particularly acute resettlement needs of gay Iranian refugees but also other Iranian refugees like dissidents, journalists, Christians and Baha’is, all of whom face persecution.”

He added that he is prepared to “fast-track” Iranian homosexuals applying for refugee status and subsidize their resettlement costs.

Baird also addressed women’s rights in his address to the Montreal group, saying that “women’s rights have become such an important part of Canada’s foreign policy, and ... it has become a personal priority of mine.” In particular he focused on “the struggle to end the practice of early-enforced marriage.”

“Canada has committed nearly $3 billion over five years to help women and children lead longer, healthier lives. That’s in addition to the almost $14 million in support we have provided toward ending sexual violence and encouraging the full participation of women in emerging democracies,” he said.

Part of the federal government’s commitment to women’s rights includes re-funding the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the world’s largest abortion provider, under the “Maternal, Newborns and Child Health commitment.”

Recently the abortion organization has come under fire from pro-life and pro-woman advocates for saying that while it “opposes sex-selection abortion,” it is nevertheless willing to perform them. Several recent Live Action undercover videos have shown Planned Parenthood and NAF counselors coaching women on how to get a sex-selective abortion and evade the law.

Opponents of the practice of sex selection abortion have warned that it is creating a massive gender imbalance in many countries that leads to kidnapping of girls who are sold as child brides or forced into prostitution. Mara Hvistendahl, in her book Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, links sex-selective abortion with bride-buying and abduction of young girls that culminates in the forced marriages that Baird is intent on eradicating.

Baird added in his speech that Canada cannot impose its values onto other countries.

“We cannot impose our form of government or our institutions on others,” he said. “Change must come from within. When it happens, Canada is prepared to support those seeking to build a free and prosperous society.”

The full text of John Baird’s speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations is available here.