America’s religious conservatives are masking their homophobia — and disdain for same-sex marriage — under the guise of “religious persecution.” So goes the argument: By enacting marriage equality, the state will somehow infringe upon the constitutionally protected freedoms of churches. But not only have faith-based bigots failed to prove their nightmare scenario true, now they can look to the north for a little assurance that letting the homos marry won’t infringe on their right to preach hate.
In Canada, former Alberta pastor Stephen Boissoin is off the hook for his 2002 open letter called “Homosexual wicked agenda,” where he described gays as immoral as pedophiles and drug dealers. Dubbed a hate crime just last year by the by the Alberta Human Rights Commission, the letter’s writing violated no law, says a Court of Queen’s Bench judge, overturning the ruling. (The original complaint was brought by Darren Lund, who is not gay, but is a former teacher.)
At the time, the commission said it may even have played a role in the beating of a gay teenager two weeks after it was published.
The commission had ordered Boissoin to refrain from making disparaging remarks about homosexuals and to pay the complainant, former Red Deer high school teacher Darren Lund, $5,000 in damages.
Neither order can now be enforced, as Wilson declared them “unlawful or unconstitutional.”
The letter carried the headline “Homosexual agenda wicked” and suggested gays were as immoral as pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps.
Boissoin had argued he was simply commenting on government policy by criticizing homosexuality being portrayed positively in the public school curriculum.
On Thursday, Boissoin said he was thrilled with the judge’s ruling, calling it a victory for “freedom of speech and religious expression in Canada.”
At the time he wrote the letter, Boissoin was a pastor with the Concerned Christian Coalition. He now works in the housing industry.
Lund, who is now a professor at the University of Calgary, said he was disappointed.
“I really think this is a step backwards for our province,” he said in an email to The Canadian Press.
“In my view, the judge’s ruling sets such strict standards for hate speech that this section is rendered all but unenforceable.
So why should, say, the Catholic Church in America be relieved? Because in Canada, there’s an even lesser standard when it comes to qualifying rhetoric as “hate speech.”
That law, the Alberta Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act, says no one shall publish a statement that is likely “to expose a person or a class of persons to hatred or contempt” because of their sexual orientation.
And still Boissoin was let off the hook. In the U.S., there is no such law, or anything similar. Yes, incitement to violence is a crime; neither a pastor nor a homeless man can legally call for the assault or murder of another person. But merely expressing your ridiculous anti-gay views? Still kosher, even in a country with harsher limitations on what’s okay to say.
So just what terrible things did Boissoin even write? “Where homosexuality flourishes, all manner of wickedness abounds. … From kindergarten class on, our children, your grandchildren are being strategically targeted, psychologically abused and brainwashed by homosexual and pro-homosexual educators. … Your children are being warped into believing that same-sex families are acceptable; that kissing men is appropriate.” (via)