Commentary by Bill Whatcott
The Interim

In 1993 when the NDP decided to add “sexual orientation” to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, Hugh Owens became incensed. Upon doing some research and reading various documents from the commission, Hugh concluded that “the Human Rights Commission is nothing more than a tax-funded homosexual propaganda machine,” and filed a human rights complaint alleging that the HRC has discriminated against Christians by making the Bible illegal.

The HRC wrote back to him, and after giving him a lecture on theology, concluded, “The Bible is a historical document written by many authors over many different generations. Different individuals and religions interpret the Bible in different ways.” Needless to say, they rejected his complaint.

In June 1997 Hugh became incensed again. This time he came across a gay activist publication called Perception. Along with various perverted stories there was an advertisement for “Gay Pride” celebrations in Saskatoon. In response to this affront to his beliefs he made bumper stickers and took out an ad in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, both of them giving scripture verses that call homosexuality a sin and showing a sign crossing out two men holding hands.

When the ad hit the streets, the gay community went into a frenzy. After much howling, phone calls and angry letters, the paper refused to publish any more of Hugh Owen’s ads. Hugh felt discriminated against when he was told that no more of his ads with Bible verses and signs crossing out homosexuals holding hands would be published. After all, he reasoned, homosexuals can use the newspaper to advance their opinions, so why can’t he?

In July 1997, Hugh went to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission again, this time to complain that the newspaper was discriminating against him, as he was a Christian and they were refusing to publish ads that were reflecting his religious beliefs. A short time later the Human Rights Commission in their usual pseudo-impartial manner told Hugh that 19 homosexuals complained against him and the newspaper for running the ad, and that the commission was dropping his complaint in favour of pursuing the complaints by the homosexuals.

Eventually the Human Rights Commission reduced the complainants from 19 to 3, their names being Jeff Dodds, Jason Roy, and Gens Hellquist. All of them are known for activism in the gay community.

Two years later in July 1999, Saskatchewan’s gay community decided to host their “Pride” event in Regina. Hugh’s case was still before the tribunal, but he wasn’t going to let the homosexuals celebrate their sexual perversity without getting a word in from the Bible. He went to the Regina Leader Post with a new ad, “Romans 1, Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 = God Says No To Homosexuality.”

At first the Leader Post refused to publish it, telling Hugh that the ad was only “your opinion.” Hugh’s response was, “if I was speaking out against drunkenness that would be an opinion too.” The Leader Post finally agreed to let him run an ad. He could print Romans 1 Leviticus 18:22, 20:13 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, word for word, but he could not give any commentary at all. Hugh happily agreed to the conditions. Needless to say, the homosexuals understood what the scripture verses were saying and promptly filed human rights complaints against Hugh and the Leader Post.

The Human Rights Tribunal concluded after an investigation, that they couldn’t get Hugh or the Leader Post for quoting scripture word for word. They wrote back to the complainants, promising that even though they couldn’t prosecute Hugh for quoting scripture, they would pursue him for the bumper stickers and ad that he took out in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. (Interestingly they never bothered to let Hugh or the Leader Post know that the complaints against them were dismissed. Hugh only found out after the fact by browsing through a lesbian publication and then he notified the Leader Post to let them know they were cleared of wrong doing.)

Miss Valerie Watson, a family law lawyer with suspected NDP sympathies, was appointed by the Saskatchewan justice department to head up the inquiry. According to Hugh Owens she was “able to do as she pleased.” In August 1999, Miss Watson finally brought the inquiry to the trial phase. She allowed Darian Moore, the lawyer representing the HRC’s case, to bring in a mother of a homosexual to talk about “homophobia’s impact on her child.” Brent Hawkes, the gay activist Metropolitan Community Church minister from Toronto, was also brought in to deliver a diatribe, accusing all Christians except liberals of misinterpreting the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality. The fact that none of the above-mentioned topics had anything to do with whether or not Hugh Owen’s bumper stickers and ads contravened the Human Rights Code seemed to be irrelevant to her.