Main | Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dangerous Precedent: Canadian Pastor Censored And Fined For Anti-Gay Letters

After publishing a letter to the editor that compared gays to pedophiles and drug dealers, a Canadian pastor has been found guilty of violating human rights laws and must pay $7000 in fines. The pastor must also stop publishing any attacks against gays.
A former pastor will appeal a human rights ruling that orders an apology and the payment of thousands of dollars in fines for an anti-gay letter published in a central Alberta newspaper. The Alberta Human Rights Commission issued a written order on May 30 stating that Stephen Boissoin and the Concerned Christian Coalition must pay former Red Deer school teacher Darren Lund $5,000 in damages.

Boissoin's letter to the editor was published in the June 17, 2002, edition of the Red Deer Advocate. In it, he compared homosexuals to pedophiles and drug dealers. "We will be filing our appeal this month and then it will be heard before a Court of Queen's Bench judge sometime over the next 12 months,'' said Boissoin's lawyer, Gerald Chipeur.

Chipeur said Boissoin will appeal both the commission's ruling last November that the letter violated human rights law, and its most recent order which stipulates restitution. Lund filed a complaint with the commission, arguing that Boissoin's letter represented a hate crime after a gay teen was attacked in Red Deer shortly after it was published.

Last November, the commission ruled in favour of Lund, saying Boissoin and the coalition violated human rights law because the letter likely exposed gays to hatred and contempt. "I think the ruling seems quite fair to me,'' said Lund, who now lives in Calgary. "I just hope there will be some educational value to the community -- that we can develop a society where everybody enjoys the same freedoms.''

Boissoin, who was the executive director of the Christian Coalition at the time the letter was published, has a web-site that discusses a "gay agenda'' in Canadian schools. The May 30 order states that Boissoin and the coalition must stop publishing in all forms of media any "disparaging remarks'' about homosexuals. Similar remarks cannot be made against Lund and his witnesses, and another $2,000 must be paid to Janelle Dodd, one of Lund's witnesses who spoke at an earlier commission hearing.
This stifling of free speech in Canada has many on the right and left greatly concerned - and justifiably so. The order against Pastor Boisson reads: "Mr. Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc. shall cease publishing in newspapers, by e-mail, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the Internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals." Boissoin must also apologize in a public letter to the original newspaper.

What Boissoin and his ilk say is obviously repugnant and should be loudly denounced. But the conservative Christian group Real Women Of Canada is right when they say, "People in a democracy should be able to have an opinion on homosexuality or on gardening or on anything without being charged or paying money out to protect oneself."

Labels: , ,

comments powered by Disqus