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B.C. United drops candidate over Gaza, LGBTQIA2S+ comments

Asad Gondal, President of the B.C. Muslim Association, is no longer running in Surrey-North
BC United has dropped Asad Gondal as the candidate for Surrey North because of comments concerning Gaza and LGBTQIA2S+.

B.C. United Leader Kevin Falcon has terminated the candidacy of a prominent B.C. Muslim leader over comments involving the Middle East and LGBTQIA2S+.

Asad Gondal, President of the B.C. Muslim Association, is no longer running in Surrey-North, Falcon announced Tuesday evening, after media had reported on several letters which Gondal had signed on behalf of his association.

In a letter dated Oct. 19 and written on BCMA letter head, Gondal described Israel's response to Hamas' attack on Israel on Oct. 7 as a "genocide" while calling on federal officials to condemn the Israeli government. Gondal's signature also appears on an undated BCMA position paper co-signed with Qari Abdulwahhab on "issues related to gender and sexuality.

Citing the Qur'an, the authors limit sexual relations to marriage and oppose same-sex relations.

"Our values and beliefs, as communicated in this document, do not align with, and sharply contrast the current social and cultural climate on the aforementioned issues," the paper states. "As Muslims, we believe that there are only two genders, male and female. We believe gender and sex to be synonymous." 

The letter goes on to say that it "is sinful, prohibited, and morally reprehensible" for a "woman to assume the appearance of a man and for man to assume the appearance of a woman" and for an "individual to undergo any procedure to change his/her sex."

This criticism of sexual minorities later takes on a political dimension, when Gondal and his co-signee appear to criticize SOGI-123. 

"We categorically condemn any attempt by any individual, institution, or lobby to subvert the agency of parents by indoctrinating their children with beliefs, values, and ideas that they deem heterodox, harmful, and subversive to their children's development," it reads. 

B.C. United had nominated Gondal as candidate on Sunday (June 9), describing his candidacy as a "transformative opportunity." The party also initially defended the choice after his statements were starting to become public through the social media feed of radio host Jas Johal. 

"B.C. United welcomes people of all backgrounds and religious faiths, recognizing we cannot reject candidates based exclusively on their religious beliefs," read a statement, which condemned Gondal's use of the 'genocide' term.

"Candidates are allowed to have beliefs that differ from B.C. United's official positions, however, when they become candidates, they agree to uphold and advance B.C. United's official positions." 

That, however, did not happen, when Falcon was said to have asked Gondal to "confirm his willingness" to adhere to party positions on Gaza and LGBTQIA2S. Falcon said this led to the termination to Gondal's candidacy.

"He informed me that he cannot change his values and principles, including disavowing earlier statements made while President of the BCMA," Falcon said. "I accept full responsibility and apologize to anyone who may have been offended."

This controversy comes after Falcon had been critical of candidates chosen by the Conservatives under Leader John Rustad. At one stage, Falcon spoke of a "clown car" of candidates in arguing that the party would not do well among B.C.'s mainstream voters. That comment came after the party had dropped three candidates following their comments about vaccines, abortion and LGBTQIA2S+ issues. 

It also comes amidst ongoing concerns about a rising tide of anti-Semitism and trans-phobia in B.C., and after B.C. United, along with the provincial Conservatives, had been critical of the B.C. NDP for not doing enough to combat anti-Semitism in society including its own ranks. 

Had Gondal remained the candidate for B.C. United, he would have gone up against B.C. NDP Education Minister Rachna Singh and Mandeep Dhaliwal for the provincial Conservatives. 

Black Press Media has reached out to Gondal for comment.

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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