A YouTuber who’s a close associate of newly named federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra — and who had access to several members of the federal cabinet, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — has used his popular channel to amplify anti-LBGTQ rhetoric.
Fadi Younes, who operates a Toronto-based digital marketing agency and a YouTube channel with more than 267,000 followers, has known Alghabra for at least several years, and was with the new minister when the latter was sworn in on Tuesday, according to Younes’ online posts.
In a video in Arabic titled “The influence of homosexuality on society” that was posted to Younes’ channel on July 15, 2017, he talks about his beliefs about being LGTBQ.
“It’s a firm and clear stance that will never change, even after a thousand years,” Younes says in the video, which is in Arabic but features English subtitles. Foreign-language subtitles can be added to YouTube videos by the video’s own publisher.
“I don’t agree with LGBTQ, and I consider it a movement against human nature and the nature of the universe,” he says. “Besides that, it’s one of the major sins in Islam.”
Later in the video, Younes says he believes people who are gay are “confused.”
“Some of the reasons are media and movies, which present the LGBTQ as a normal thing, while it’s not. One reason for this confusion can be a congenital or medical issue, which is related to hormonal imbalance. Also, the bad raising of children,” he says.
In the video’s conclusion, Younes says, “For LGBTQ people, I see that we have to embrace this sector of society and to open the door to dialogue, to build the bridge of communication and to rehabilitate them, hoping that someday they will be back to normal.”
On July 20, 2017, five days after Younes published the video on YouTube, he posted a photo on his Facebook page of him and Alghabra at an announcement of Toronto’s Festival of Arabic Music & Arts.
Younes and Alghabra have remained linked since 2017. Younes was at Alghabra’s re-election celebration last year, and they’ve appeared in multiple videos together that Younes has posted, including one in the House of Commons.
Furthermore, Younes’ company was paid at least $6,000 by Alghabra’s office, and Younes met the Palestinian ambassador during a visit to Alghabra’s Ottawa office.
Younes has also been introduced to other members of the federal cabinet, including Trudeau and Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, who’s made several videos with Younes.
In a emailed statement on Tuesday night, Alghabra told iPolitics he was “shocked and disappointed to learn of a video posted online by someone who does contract work for my constituency office using homophobic slurs.”
“The contract has been terminated. We must combat ignorance, hate or intolerance in our society. I will continue to support LGBTQ2 rights, as we continue to build a more inclusive and tolerant society for everyone,” Alghabra said.
Reached by phone on Tuesday night, Younes confirmed that his contract with Alghabra’s office had ended.
Younes also apologized for making statements that he described as being unintentionally harmful to LGBTQ people, and said the overall purpose of the more than 20-minute video about homosexuality – which has since been made private on YouTube – was “advocating for LGBTQ in front of the Arabic community.”
“My views always toward the LGBTQ is that they are equal (and) they deserve every right. Nothing changes, even if my religion says that it’s against it, like it’s not acceptable,” Younes said over the phone, “but they are human. They deserve the right. They are equal to us.”
Before today, Alghabra had been Trudeau’s parliamentary secretary, which required him to represent the prime minister in the House.
Trudeau has long fashioned himself — and been considered — a champion of the equality of LGBTQ Canadians. He was the first prime minister to march in a Pride parade, and to lead the first government to raise the Pride flag on Parliament Hill — both milestones of the government in 2016. His government also passed Bill C-16, making it illegal to discriminate against people based on their gender identity or expression.
The latest move by the government to fight discrimination against LGBTQ people is to ban conversion therapy, which are attempts to change someone’s sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression.
Bill C-6, which would ban conversion therapy and create criminal penalties for violators, was reintroduced by Justice Minister David Lametti on Oct. 1 and is currently at second reading in the House.