India trip provides lessons learned, all around: Cohn

Good piece abound the visit by Premier Wynne’s visit to Amritsar’s Golden Temple, the spiritual centre of Sikhdom, and the controversy it provoked:

As for Wynne, her visit to the Golden Temple proved anti-climactic. Despite the media speculation, she received the traditional gift of a siropa robe of honour — though the deed was done, diplomatically, in the basement (as opposed to the sanctum sanctorum, minimizing any awkwardness for the temple’s current leadership, who remained publicly coy on precisely how and by whom the honour was bestowed).

Lest anyone be too judgmental of the public coyness of Golden Temple officials — and their subsequent circumlocutions about Wynne’s circumambulations — one must concede that homophobia is nothing new, whether in the West or the East. Coincidentally, India’s Supreme Court is now revisiting antiquated laws on homosexuality inherited (and imported) from British colonial rule. Canada phased out discrimination against gay marriage only in 2005, and American states are just now catching up.

The lesson for politicians making the pilgrimage to Punjab is that it can sometimes be a delicate dance. You may walk into trouble, as Wynne nearly did, or you may wrong-foot yourself, as Brown might have (until his recent circumspection on sexual orientation).

Good for Wynne for standing her ground, without trampling on local sensitivities. Good for Brown for belatedly standing up against homophobia, after previously stooping to the level of local homophobes and gay-baiters who hyperbolized the sex-ed update.

Lessons learned, one hopes, all around.

Source: India trip provides lessons learned, all around: Cohn | Toronto Star

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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