If Svend Robinson has his way, quoting certain parts of the Bible and other religious texts could soon be a crime in Canada. His private member’s Bill C-415, a brazen attempt to silence any criticism of the homosexual agenda, will amend the “hate” crime statues to add “sexual orientation” as a protected category.
The bill recently passed second reading in Parliament on the basis of support from the Liberals, the Bloc, the NDP and the Tories. Bill C-415 is highly likely to become law within a year.
C-415 will amend sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code to add homosexuals to a short list of groups, including those based on ethnicity and race, that are protected from statements of a genocidal or of a “hateful” nature. The sections have only been used in the past to prosecute extreme cases, such as those of Ernest Zundel and James Keegstra, but that will change with the addition of homosexuals as an enumerated group.
Broadcast and print media will likely be the first to put the new law into practice, through a stifling of any opinion or debate that could run afoul of the law. While the silencing of critical viewpoints in the media is a serious threat to individual liberties, there will be even more serious implications for people of faith.
Any Christian church, school, hospital or social service agency with an orthodox understanding of the Scriptures can anticipate trouble with radical homosexuals over everything from hiring practices to the content of the liturgy. As one Swedish homosexual activist group promised recently, in anticipation of the passage of a similar law there, individual activists will be in churches on Sundays to tape-record the services and press charges of “hate” or hurt feelings whenever possible. Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and other religious can expect similar treatment.
And the law, if enacted as Svend Robinson hopes, will not provide any defences for citizens as similar legislation governing slander and libel does. For instance, having spoken the truth is an acceptable defence to a charge of libel. However, with C-415, factually expressing concern about the dangerous health implications of the homosexual lifestyle, even if one is a medical doctor, could be considered “hateful,” and therefore criminal by Robinson’s thin-skinned friends.
There actually already exists a precedent in Canadian human rights law for viewing biblical condemnations of homosexuality as punishable by fines and possible jail time. Hugh Owens of Saskatchewan was fined $5,000 by his provincial human rights commission in 2000 for placing an advertisement in a Saskatoon newspaper that quoted Leviticus’ condemnations of homosexual behaviour.
Although such an egregious transgression of our fundamental democratic rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion should not withstand the scrutiny of our Constitution, it is important to remember who interprets the Constitution in our current enlightened age. Ultimately, the nine unelected justices of the Supreme Court will be deciding the fate of persons charged under this new law. And those justices have made their opinions on this subject abundantly clear in the past. Most notably they’ve expressed a view that religious convictions should be a private matter, and that the public square should be a “secular” place.
In addition, the justices are strongly prejudiced in support of the radical homosexual agenda, ruling countless times in favour of even the most ludicrous claims by homosexuals. They have gone so far as to “write in” homosexuality as a special category in the Constitution, even though Parliament voted specifically to exclude this in 1982 when it amended the Constitution. It is highly doubtful that when the question of religious free speech meets up against the accusation of “hate” that free speech will win out in court.
While homosexual activists have long derided their political opponents and other critics as “homophobic” or “hateful,” most Canadians do not consider simply posing an opposing viewpoint, especially a religiously based viewpoint, a criminal activity. Yet that is the reality Canadians face if C-415 passes and becomes law.
While members of Parliament may assume the suppression of “hate” speech is a noble goal, the term “hate” is nebulous and undefined. Those that will define “hate,” if Parliament does not, are the radical homosexual activists who bring charges and their friends, the judges, who decide the outcome.
Democratic freedoms are typically hard-won, and easily lost. Probably the most important democratic activity Canadians of faith can undertake this summer is to call their local member of Parliament and express their opposition to C-415.