Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Anti-Gay Flyers Violated Saskatchewan Human Rights Code: Supreme Court

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Anti-Gay Flyers Violated Saskatchewan Human Rights Code: Supreme Court

Article excerpt

Anti-gay material violated rights code: court


OTTAWA - A Saskatchewan anti-gay crusader says he'll ignore a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that he violated human-rights rules when he distributed pamphlets denouncing homosexuals.

In a 6-0 decision Wednesday, the high court found two of the four flyers distributed by William Whatcott violated Saskatchewan's Human Rights Code.

Those flyers referred to gay men as sodomites and pedophiles.

But the court struck down some language in the provincial code, clearing Whatcott of any wrongdoing in connection with two other flyers.

Whatcott dismissed the ruling, insisting he won't stop distributing material expressing his religious views.

"I believe God has called me to speak on these moral issues," Whatcott told The Canadian Press.

"So looking at it from that perspective. I'll likely put out another flyer articulating the Judeo-Christian viewpoint on homosexuality in my usual blunt and forthright manner."

Whatcott also referred to the high court justices as socialists "who've butchered our law, or our tradition of free speech."

"I'm not going to pay a lot of attention to it. I view this ruling as rubbish and I think that our seven Supreme Court justices are a disgrace."

Whatcott produced and distributed leaflets in 2000 and 2001 that contained inflammatory statements about gay men, prompting complaints to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

A tribunal ruled that Whatcott violated the province's human rights code -- but that finding was overturned by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

The commission appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that Whatcott's flyers essentially asserted that gays and lesbians are less than human, exposing them to discrimination.

The high court agreed with respect to two of the flyers, saying they constituted hate-speech under the code.

"The tribunal's conclusions with respect to (the two flyers) were reasonable," Justice Marshall Rothstein wrote on behalf of the court.

"Passages of (the flyers) combine many of the hallmarks of hatred identified in the case law."

The vilifying and derogatory representations used in the flyers created a "tone" of hatred against homosexuals, said Rothstein.

"It delegitimizes homosexuals by referring to them as filthy or dirty sex addicts and by comparing them to pedophiles, a traditionally reviled group in society," he wrote.

Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission chief David Arnot applauded the ruling and thanked the complainants for coming forward "with courage in what was absolutely a sea of hatred to stand up for their rights."

"It is necessary to sanction hate speech in our society and the court has been very, very clear," Arnot said.

However, in its ruling on Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Saskatchewan charter. …

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