Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his party have proposed new legislation to expand Canada’s
blasphemy laws, er… hate speech laws… to cover transgender issues. Anyone who dares to speak wrongly on transgender issues could face penalties of up to two years in jail. You can read favorable mainstream media coverage, for example, at
Canada is no stranger to using hate speech law to curb religious expression. The Christian Post has bundled with this story a mention of the following chilling example:
An identical ban on anti-gay “hate propaganda” has been in place for several years and has caused problems for Christians who oppose gay marriage. In 2013, the Canadian Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a Christian street preacher for distributing fliers denouncing homosexual behavior.
The court justified the preacher’s conviction on the grounds that he used “vilifying and derogatory representations to create a tone of hatred” against homosexuals. The court held that the pastor’s religious freedom did not excuse him from violating “hate propaganda laws”.
The case in question from 2013 was Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission v Whatcott, which ruled against a street preacher named Whatcott, an activist who had been convicted and fined in Saskatchewan Province, for hate speech. He had handed out fliers denouncing homosexual acts and the promotion of the same among public school students.
Justice Rothstein described hate speech as describing:
“…the targeted group as a menace that could threaten the safety and well-being of others, makes reference to respected sources (in this case the Bible) to lend credibility to negative generalizations, and uses vilifying and derogatory representations to create a tone of hatred.”
(Source: Atlantic Canada Legal Examiner)
Now, to be fair, the opinion did take pains elsewhere to clarify that religious texts aren’t to be regarded as hate speech. Furthermore I am not going to claim moral or spiritual solidarity with Mr. Whatcott, as I haven’t read his brochures. He appears to have had numerous prior run-ins with authorities, who have found his statements to be “polemical and impolite”–I will even presume that to be understatement.
Still, to those who hold to orthodox Christianity, the message is clear. The notion of freedom of religious expression will no longer afford anyone in Canada protection against hate speech censorship.