Canada has helped "a large number" of oppressed gays and lesbians immigrate from Iran, AFP quoted Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird as saying Friday.

In a speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, Baird condemned countries, including the Islamic Republic, for having "punitive laws that criminalize homosexuality." He also touted Canada's efforts to promote the rights of women abroad.

Last week, Canada closed its embassy in Iran and gave Iranian diplomats in Ottawa five days to leave the country.

At the time, Baird described Tehran as the biggest threat to global security.

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