Writing in his April 12, 2004, column, John Leo notes that Canadian preachers will be among those affected if a proposed law is adopted: “Bill C-250 (is) a repressive, anti-free-speech measure that is on the brink of becoming law in Canada. It would add ‘sexual orientation’ to the Canadian hate propaganda law, thus making public criticism of homosexuality a crime. It is sometimes called the ‘Bible as Hate Literature’ bill, or simply ‘the chill bill.’ It could ban publicly expressed opposition to gay marriage or any other political goal of gay groups. The bill has a loophole for religious opposition to homosexuality, but few scholars think it will offer protection, given the strength of the gay lobby and the trend toward censorship in Canada…

“Since Canada has no First Amendment, anti-bias laws generally trump free speech and freedom of religion. A recent flurry of cases has mostly gone against free expression. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission ruled that a newspaper ad listing biblical passages that oppose homosexuality was a human-rights offense. The commission ordered the paper and Hugh Owens, the man who placed the ad, to pay $1,500 each to three gay men who objected to it…”

Leo points out that, “The churches seem to be the key target of C-250. One of Canada’s gay senators denounced ‘ecclesiastical dictators’ and wrote to a critic, ‘You people are sick. God should strike you dead.’ In 1998, lesbian lawyer Barbara Finlay of British Columbia said ‘the legal struggle for queer rights will one day be a struggle between freedom of religion versus sexual orientation.’

“It’s starting to be defined just that way in other countries. In Sweden, sermons are explicitly covered by an anti-hate-speech law passed to protect homosexuals. The Swedish chancellor of justice said any reference to the Bible’s stating that homosexuality is sinful might be a criminal offense, and a Pentecostal minister is already facing charges. In Britain, police investigated Anglican Bishop Peter Forster of Chester after he told a local paper: ‘Some people who are primarily homosexual can reorientate themselves. I would encourage them to consider that as an option.’ Police sent a copy of his remarks to prosecutors, but the case was dropped. In Ireland last August, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties warned that clergy who circulated a Vatican statement opposing gay marriages could face prosecution under incitement-to-hatred legislation.” (Click here to read Leo’s full column.)

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