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Navdip Bains MP defends same-sex marriage that has drawn flak in India

I am committed to supporting the Charter of Rights

Toronto, Feb 5, 2005

Canada's youngest South Asian MP is defending the same sex marriage bill although it has triggered a storm of protests among Sikhs in India.

Navdip Singh Bains says when he entered politics, he resolved to stand by the Charter of Rights - and it was in that spirit that he supported the same sex marriage bill.

Bains, the Sikh MP who represents Mississauga-Brampton, said he was committed to supporting the Charter of Rights when he decided to fight elections.

"It is because of the charter that I decided to vote for the bill. The same sex marriage issue is also a question of giving rights to a minority group.

"I see this issue in this light only. If I decide to vote against it, I will be breaching my resolve and opposing the basic preamble of the charter," Bains told the South Asian Observer.

The bill prompted a chorus of protests in Punjab, with the head priest of the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, issuing an edict against it and asking Canada's six Sikh MPs to take a stand against same sex marriages.

Calling it an anti-human tendency, the Akal Takht said the "the idea of same-sex marriages originates from sick minds".

Summing up his January visit to India with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Bains said there was an earnest desire on both sides to give a new fillip to mutual ties.

"Apart from science, technology and tsunami information systems, for which an agreement was signed, a lot more can be done. Both the prime ministers shared the view on increasing cooperation," Bains said.

He said the sheer volume of people of Indian origin living in Canada is enough to set both nations on a more interactive path.

"I went to India after a long spell and it was really thrilling. Apart from the official tour programme, my personal visit to Punjab and my native village in Rajasthan was a refreshing experience," he said.

Bains said his main focus during the Punjab visit was on the education system, adding that he talked to students to learn how the younger generation felt about the changes taking place around them.

He also met Canadian High Commission officials for a first-hand knowledge about the visa processing system. IANS

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