Stephen Boissoin brought some of the tenacity that goes along with his being a boxer when he travelled to Ontario to speak about his human rights case recently.
Ending a self-imposed media and public speaking boycott of some length in time, Boissoin spoke in Grimbsy, Ont., just outside Hamilton, on Oct. 16 at a meeting of the Niagara chapter of the Association for Reformed Political Action Canada, a national Christian political action group that was launched in April 2008. ARPA Canada serves as a centre for co-ordinating political action among Reformed churches and provides news, research, support and motivation. It also communicates a biblical view of current political issues to political officials. Its website is www.arpacanada.ca.
Boissoin is an Alberta man who, while a Christian youth minister, was fined $7,000, ordered to apologize and was censured from writing on the subject of homosexuality by the Alberta Human Rights Commission. This was after a letter to the editor he penned was published in the Red Deer Advocate newspaper in 2002. The commission determined that his letter met the criteria of hate speech and motivated an assault on a homosexual person shortly after it was published.
“I’ll never apologize. I’ll never pay the fines,” he declared in Grimsby. “I’ll go to prison before I pay the fines and I’ll shift into being some jailhouse minister … I’m going to hold out right till the end. I’ve nothing to apologize for. I won’t even apologize for the tone of the letter. It’s true.”
His case is currently being appealed before the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary, where hearings were held on Sept. 16 and 17. Boissoin and his lawyers are also asking that Section 3 of the Alberta Human Rights Act be struck down as a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A decision is expected in two to six months.
Boissoin outlined how his odyssey began, as an outgrowth of his working with at-risk youth on the streets of Alberta. He himself had been immersed in drugs and crime in his younger years and has been trying to prevent other young people from meeting the same fate. In the course of his work, the young people described how they were being subjected to homosexual indoctrination in their schools.
“I had been writing letters to the editor for some time” on other topics, he said. “This topic of homosexuality started to stir up in me.” Seeing the wreckage that a liberal, licentious mindset had wrought on young people’s lives, Boissoin felt, “I need to focus on the word of God. I need to focus on what God has called me to do. I’m going to start being straightforward.”
He wrote several letters to the editor on homosexuality without incident. But the one that “stirred up the fuss” was designed to open up a Pandora’s Box, he said. “I feel God permitted me to write that letter. I did so to the best of my ability and I stand before you today (to say) that letter is 100 per cent true. It’s more true today than at the time I wrote it.”
While expecting some blowback, Boissoin didn’t expect the ramifications to reach far beyond Red Deer. However, Darren Lund, now an associate professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Calgary – whose “ongoing research, activism and teaching are focused on social justice issues in schools and communities” – filed a human rights complaint, alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
At mediation, Boissoin declined attempts to be “re-educated” and declared he and Lund had no grounds to reconcile on. At the tribunal hearing later, it was ruled that Boissoin was guilty of “causing to be published before the public, statements which were likely to expose homosexuals, as a vulnerable group, to hatred and contempt due to their sexual preference, effectively making it more acceptable to others to manifest hatred against homosexuals.” The tribunal added the letter’s exposure of homosexuals to hatred and contempt overrode the freedom of speech afforded in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“If the ruling is upheld, it will mean that non-judicial bodies … will be able to determine was religious speech is hate speech … It is a very, very serious case,” said Boissoin. He recalled how one lawyer for the Alberta attorney-general’s office actually compared his letter to Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
“This case doesn’t just involve me. If I’m found guilty, I will go on with my life … Across Canada, in every province, we have seen … cases where ministers, Catholic priests, Catholic bishops, Christian organizations, are being brought before tribunals. Almost 100 per cent of the time, they are found guilty, fined and forced, in certain situations, to accept that which their Bible teaches they should not accept.”
Boissoin called on concerned Christians of all denominations to put aside their non-essential differences and work together to combat what he characterized as persecution taking place across Canada.
“If Christians at large do not stand up together and collectively be a voice in every way you can … then you, and whoever is not doing anything, is literally allowing the church to be tainted by homosexuality … We need to be more aggressive and defend the territory that God has given us in Canada … We are having our rights as Christians dismantled.”
Boissoin is convinced that concerted action will prompt politicians to act, while apathy will ensure the status quo.
“Regardless of how you word it … you put yourself at risk of having a human rights complaint filed against you … It doesn’t matter how you state your opinion in opposition to homosexuality. The fact that you have an opinion against homosexuality is wrong and you need to be re-educated. That is exactly what is happening.”
He said many Christians have stepped up to the plate and helped him with his considerable legal expenses. One even invited him to lunch one day and pressed a $10,000 cheque into his hand. “That, though, is about a monthly bill I see from (my lawyers), believe it or not … The current balance is large. I get bills every month that are in the double-digit thousands of dollars.”
Updated information on his case is available at his website: www.stephenboissoin.com.