Bell apologizes for ‘gay tourism’ error

Jobs Minister Pat Bell has asked his staff to investigate how a ministry brochure erroneously warned against promoting gay tourism in China.

Jobs

Jobs

VICTORIA – Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell has asked his ministry staff to investigate how a B.C. government brochure on marketing in China came to include an erroneous warning against promotion of gambling and gay tourism in the country.

Speaking to reporters by phone from Beijing Tuesday, Bell offered an apology to anyone who is offended by the reference to gay tourism in the brochure, which is being rewritten.

Entitled “How to Market Your Business in China,” the brochure was released by his ministry days before Bell and Premier Christy Clark left for B.C.’s largest-ever trade mission to China.

It said B.C. tourism partners must “prohibit the promotion of casinos, gambling and gay tourism, per the China National Tourism Association.”

When the issue was raised Monday, Bell initially said the restriction was a result of Canada’s negotiations with China for “approved destination status,” which allows Chinese tourists to visit Canada without visas.

After further checking by ministry staff, Bell said no such restrictions exist in Canada’s tourism agreement with China.

“It is still unclear to me how that passage was inserted into the document,” Bell said. “We can not find any direction either from the [approved destination status] agreement signed with the Chinese or any other place. We are still researching that and I’ve asked my deputy to find out exactly how that happened.”

The Chinese government has struggled with acceptance of homosexuality, which was removed in 2001 from the country’s official list of mental disorders. The state-run China Daily has run several articles in recent years signalling acceptance or discussing moderating public attitudes towards gay marriage.

Tourism Vancouver promotes the city as a gay-friendly place to visit, with the largest gay population in Western Canada and the host city for the North American Outgames in July.

Since the trip began last week, Clark and Bell have highlighted the signing of an agreement with Sichuan Airlines to begin three flights a week to Vancouver starting next year.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

The Site C Dam location is seen along the Peace River in Fort St. John, B.C., Tuesday, April 18, 2017. The cost of British Columbia’s Site C hydroelectric dam has grown to $16 billion and the completion has been moved up a year to 2025. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BC Liberal energy critic blasts ‘lack of transparency’ on Site C

MLA Tom Shypitka says Site C going ahead is a ‘good thing’, blames NDP for mismanagement

Volunteers from the Elk River Alliance cleared 14 car batteries from the Elk River near Elkford this week. (Photo contributed)
Elk River Alliance to move to more holistic environmental monitoring

The details of the ERA’s 2021 program will be discussed at the AGM next month

The Kitimat RCMP responded to false alarms, an apartment fire and more between Jan. 29 to Feb. 3, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Sparwood backs campaign to study Surrey RCMP impact

The City of Surrey is home to the largest RCMP detachment in the province

Brent Bidston is the president of Angel Flight East Kootenay. Black Press file photo.
RDEK ponders funding for Angel Flight East Kootenay

The district is considering funding for operations or to eventually help acquire a larger plane

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Most Read