[Roy] Eappen is a bit of a curious case. Indian by birth, he now lives in Quebec, where he splits his time between advocating for a new centre-right consensus in the province, stumping for the federal Conservatives and hobnobbing with Republican heavyweights down south. A quick Google search will turn up pictures of Eappen alongside George W Bush, Newt Gingrich and Paul Ryan.
But he’s becoming increasingly known for his parties.
Recently, Eappen was in Tampa for the Republican National Convention, where he helped organize for conservative gay group GOProud. Before that, he started the Fabulous Blue Tent party for the Conservative convention here in Canada. “It’s a funny little secret that Tory parties all over the world are full of gay people,” he says.
Eappen’s recent 800-person party in Ottawa was met with accolades and positive reviews from partygoers and pundits. It attracted Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and MP Rick Dykstra, as well as staffers from all parties. Even Laureen Harper was supposed to come, but she couldn’t make it.
He laughs again. “She’s an Evangelical Christian, and she’s cool with us.”
Critics derided the party, lobbing accusations of tokenism. But Eappen shrugs it off. “When we had this party, a lot of gay bloggers went nuts,” he says. People asked him, “How can you homophobes have this party?’”
But Eappen says that gay Tories are nothing new. He’s been in the party — the Progressive Conservative side — since he was 16. He says Centre Block in Ottawa is flush with gay staffers, advisers, strategists and other Tories in positions of power. “[The party was] just to show that we’re there. We usually don’t make a big thing about it,” he says.
At the close of a divisive Quebec City conference, 162 countries adopted a new declaration that underlines their dedication to fighting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
But the group appears to have nixed a more clearly worded endorsement of gay rights from its declaration.
The Quebec Declaration, named for the host city of the conference that adopted it, is a series of 38 commitments approved by the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (IPU). The IPU is a collection of political representatives that works to establish guidelines to promote democracy and human rights amongst its member states.
[. . .]
"I firmly believe it is the role of the state to protect its people regardless of sex, sexuality or faith," Baird told the IPU conference.
It was a vow to fight a hard-line approach taken by Baird.
“It is cases like [murdered Ugandan gay activist David Kato’s] that drive me to raise this issue, often to the discomfort of the people sitting across the table, as I did at recent meetings in Australia and New York,” Baird told the plenary. “I firmly believe it is the role of the state to protect its people regardless of sex, sexuality or faith.”
Baird seemed to get his way, to an extent.
The text of the draft declaration initially did not include a mention of protection for sexual minorities. It repeatedly declared the members’ mission to fight “discrimination of any kind, including that based on race, colour, language, religion, sex,” but left out anything about queer people.
A later draft encouraged member states to foster tolerance, understanding and diversity for sexual minorities.