Release Date: April 29, 2004
For Immediate Release:
Senate Passes Bill C-250 – A Chill is in the Air
The prolonged efforts of numerous citizens and groups, including the Catholic Civil Rights League, to oppose the passage of Bill C-250 have failed with the final 59-11 vote of the Senate of Canada on April 28 to approve the bill into law.
Proponents and supporters of Svend Robinson’s “symbolic” amendment to add “sexual orientation” to the list of classes protected by the hate provisions of Canada’s Criminal Code have made numerous assurances that such charges will only apply to the most obnoxious or severe critics of homosexual behaviour. Those assurances seem to be rather weak given the manner in which similar legislation abroad has been employed to limit freedom of speech:
Last fall, the Rt. Reverend Dr. Peter Forster, Anglican Bishop of Chester, England was investigated under hate crimes legislation and reprimanded by the local Chief Constable for observing that some people can overcome homosexual inclinations and “reorientate” themselves. (The Telegraph, 10/11/03)
In January of this year a Swedish Pentecostal Pastor Ake Green was prosecuted for “hate speech against homosexuals” for a sermon he preached last summer citing Biblical references to homosexuality. (Kyrkans Tidning, 01/11/04)
Belgian Cardianal Gustaaf Joos faces a lawsuit under that country’s discrimination laws for his remarks about the nature of homosexuality and the Church’s teaching published in a Belgium magazine. (CWNews.com, 01/26/04)
Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid is facing a suit in Spain for preaching against homosexuality in a homily he gave in the Madrid Cathederal on the feast of the Holy Family. (Washington Post, 01/03/04)
In Ireland, clergy and bishops were warned that the distribution of the Vatican’s publication on public recognition of same-sex relationships could face prosecution under Irish incitement to hatred legislation. (The Irish Times, 07/02/03)
With the passage of Bill C-250, Canada has now embarked upon a course of criminalization of dissent.
CCRL President Tom Langan commented: “We do not hate persons who may have homosexual inclinations or who engage in such behaviour. Likewise, we do not hate persons who engage in adulterous relationships, or other illicit sex outside of marriage. But we will continue to reject such behaviour, whether on religious or other grounds. Canada’s adoption of measures to allow potential criminalization or prosecution for such views is to its shame.”
Are such expectations misguided? It remains to be seen. We have seen comments from leading Canadian gay advocates such as Rev. Brent Hawkes of the Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto in which he suggested last year that Vatican statements or a Catholic bishop’s commentary on homosexuality are “expressions of hatred”. We suspect Canadians will soon discover the extent of the new peril imposed on their freedom of speech only after they receive that knock on the door to answer to the authorities.
For more information contact: Philip Horgan, Vice-President
telephone (416) 466-8244, fax (416) 466-0091, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, web: www.ccrl.ca
Catholic Civil Rights League assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.