Main | Saturday, January 08, 2011

CANADA: Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Challenge To Hate Speech Law

In 2005 former male prostitute and Christian "ex-gay" activist Bill Whatcott, the Canadian version of James Hartline, was found to have violated Saskatchewan's hate speech law after he stuffed residential mailboxes with pamphlets describing gay men as "filthy pedophiles" and "sodomites." Last year Whatcott successfully appealed his conviction. Yesterday Canada's Supreme Court agreed to hear Whatcott's challenge to the very basis of the hate speech law, which he says violates the Canadian constitution.
Whatcott's lawyer, Tom Schuck, says what has been the traditional Christian message on appropriate sexual conduct has morphed into being characterized as hate speech. Human rights commissions should remain neutral on such moral issues, he suggests. "The problem that I have and many others in the Christian community (have), is that this law is being used to charge Christians — Christians who have a different view as to what is right and wrong on sexual behaviour and in particular same-sex sexual behaviour," Schuck said Friday in a phone interview from his office in Weyburn, Sask. "The argument is that our Constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, gives all Canadians the freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion. And the utilization of human rights commissions to stop someone from saying that same-sex sexual activity is wrong infringes on all three of those charter rights."
After his 2005 conviction, Whatcott became a folk hero among American anti-gay activists and Christianists, who have long pointed to Canada's stringent hate speech laws as a harbinger of a coming chilling of free speech in the United States. However few have noted last year's overturn of his conviction and most continue cite the 2005 incident in their materials.

VIDEO: From the documentary, The Freedom Of Whatcott.

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