The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear the case of Chris Kempling, in what family supporters and free-speech advocates are calling a serious threat to democratic freedoms.

Kempling, a teacher and school counselor in Quesnel, B.C., was disciplined in 1997 by the B.C. College of Teachers for writing letters to the editor of the local newspaper denouncing teaching on homosexuality.

In August 1997, he had written in the Quesnel Cariboo Observer: “Sexual orientations can be changed and the success rate for those who seek help is high. My hope is that students who are confused over their sexual orientation will come to see me.”

Kempling said the court’s decision not to hear his case is “a victory for the enemies of free speech and a sad day for all Canadians who value the free exchange of ideas in the public square.

“People need to remember that I have never been asked to retract any of my public statements, nor has any human rights complaint ever been laid against me,” he said. “I was simply expressing a social conservative point of view shared by millions of Canadians.”

In the midst of the Canadian general election, Kempling’s case was even more significant. In Canada, the appointment of Supreme Court justices is the exclusive preserve of the governing party. The Liberal Party of Canada, in power since 1993, made the vilification of socially conservative Canadians, and their position on marriage, a central point of its campaign strategy. During its long tenure in government, the party put forth homosexual “marriage” as a legally guaranteed Charter right.

Gwen Landoldt of REAL Women of Canada told that the issue is one of the integrity of the Supreme Court and must be addressed. “I don’t know where you go from here, but I can tell you that it is not the end of the fight. The decision indicates a double standard in the courts. It indicates the court believes that no one can publicly criticize homosexual behaviour.”

In July 2000, Kempling wrote in the Observer, “The majority of religions consider (homosexual) behaviour to be immoral, and many mental health professionals, including myself, believe homosexuality to be the result of abnormal psycho-sexual influences.
“I refuse to be a false teacher saying that promiscuity is acceptable, perversion is normal and immorality is simply ‘cultural diversity,’ of which we should be proud.”

These statements, the College of Teachers said, constituted “conduct unbecoming a teacher.” It suspended Kempling for a month. The college later suspended Kempling again for letters he wrote connected with his running as a candidate for the Christian Heritage Party. The college is now working to prevent teachers from engaging in politics.

The B.C. Court of Appeal upheld the college’s decision, so Kempling took his case to the Supreme Court with the help of a coalition of organizations called the Canadian Religious Freedom Alliance. The alliance is comprised of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Christian Legal Fellowship, the British Columbia Christian Teachers Association and the Catholic Civil Rights League.

In the B.C. court decision, Justice Holmes said Charter rights do not apply to those who speak in their professional capacities. The EFC said the precedent set means that a professional association can discipline a professional for any statement he makes in public against homosexuality or or any issue considered “off limits” to debate.

Kempling has vowed to keep fighting by taking his case to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which he hopes may shame Canada into re-examining the direction taken by the courts.

This story originally appeared on Jan. 19 at