TORONTO (JTA) — The Jewish National Fund of Canada has canceled a scheduled speech by U.S. presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee
Huckabee, who is vying for the Republican bid in 2016, had his Oct. 15 speaking engagement in Ottawa canceled on June 10 following objections from the Canadian LGBTQ community, the Canadian Jewish News reported.
An online petition at change.org calling for Huckabee to be pulled from speaking at the JNF Negev Dinner noted that comments from the former Arkansas governor “spread degrading hatefulness towards and about transgender people.”
“This is a segment of our community that needs your support, not the appearance of yet further rejection and abuse, as clearly promoted by your announced speaker, Mr. Huckabee,” the petition said.
The petition also noted that Huckabee publicly supported Josh Duggar, a member of the family featured in the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting” who allegedly molested some of his underage sisters and a family friend.
Josh Cooper, JNF Canada’s CEO, told the Canadian Jewish News that the petition, which had 31 signatories as of Monday, “had absolutely no impact whatsoever” on the decision to cancel Huckabee’s speech at the dinner, which this year will support autism research in Israel.
In an email to the weekly newspaper, Cooper said that Huckabee was initially selected because “he is a staunch supporter of the State of Israel” and “has never wavered from this position,” but was disinvited because “the media spotlight has recently focused on Mr. Huckabee’s comments about issues that bear no relevance to JNF or autism.”
Huckabee gave a speech last month at the National Religious Broadcasters’ convention in which he referred to transgenderism as a “social experiment” and joked he would have pretended to be trans in high school if he’d known it would allow him to shower with girls during gym, the Canadian Jewish News reported.