In a victory for free speech in Canada, the highest appeals court in Alberta ruled last week(October 20, 2012) in favor of a pastor who had been harshly treated by the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
In June 2002, the Red Deer Advocate printed Stephen Boissoin’s letter to the editor in which he warned about the “militant homosexual agenda” that was spreading “all manner of wickedness” in Canadian society and subjecting children to “psychologically and physiologically damaging pro-homosexual literature and guidance in the public school system.”
Boissoin, a youth pastor at the time, urged his readers to “start taking back what the enemy has taken from you.”
Homosexual activist Darren Lund, a professor at the University of Calgary, complained to the Human Rights Commission, which ruled not only that Boissoin had to write an apology and pay $5000 to Lund, but the preacher could never again make a public statement relating to homosexuals.
In 2009, a judge on the Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that Boissoin’s article did not constitute hate speech and declared that the human rights panel had no constitutional authority to order the punishments it had imposed (“Victory at Last,” National Post, Oct. 19, 2012).
Lund appealed the decision to the Alberta Court of Appeal, which has now affirmed the lower court’s ruling in favor of Boissoin’s free speech.
Justice Clinton O’Brien made the following statement in its ruling: “Whether offensive of not, the letter was perceived to stimulate and add to an ongoing public debate on matters of public interest, as distinct from hate propaganda which serves no useful function and has no redeeming qualities. … Boissoin and others have the freedom to think, whether stemming from their religious convictions or not, that homosexuality is sinful and morally wrong. In my view, it follows that they have the right to express that thought to others.” The court also said that it was concerned that Canada’s human rights law, because of a lack of clarity, can “cast a chill on the exercise of the fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression and religion.”
Jonathan Kay, Managing Editor for Comment at the National Post, said, “Though I disagree with Mr. Boissoin’s views on homosexuality, I congratulate him on his victory, which is really a victory for all Canadians who care about ideas–even if he never should have been drawn into this expensive, exasperating decade-long saga in the first place.”