Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 22, 2003
CWL opposes hate bill reform
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
The Catholic Women's League of Canada is urging all Canadians to call their MPs to oppose Bill C-250, which would add sexual orientation to the definition of hate propaganda in the Criminal Code.
The bill, introduced by openly gay MP Svend Robinson, is expected come up for final reading in the House of Commons Sept. 17. If passed, it would expand the definition of "identifiable group" in the hate propaganda section of the Criminal Code to include sexual orientation. Currently, the identifiable groups are those distinguished by colour, race, religion or ethnic origin.
"There is a deep concern about Bill C250 and I share that concern," said national CWL president Marie Cameron, in a memo to CWL members Sept. 10. "When he was Justice Minister helping to write the Charter of Rights, Mr. Chretien (the Prime Minister) refused to add the very words which this Bill is attempting to add.
"We should remind him that the basis for our laws in Canada have not changed since that time and that these words should not be added.
"At the very time when such free and wide ranging debate on this issue is most essential to protect our future, Bill C-250 would stifle it with the threat of criminal penalties," she said.
The Catholic Church in Canada, along with other mainstream denominations fear the legislation could be used to silence the church's teachings against active homosexuality. "What troubles us is the possibility that someone who finds the expression of the beliefs of the Catholic Church on the sexual conduct of homosexual persons too blunt or too harsh will invoke the Criminal Code to silence the teaching," said the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Robinson has denied that his bill will affect freedom of religion and said the Supreme Court of Canada has laid out tough requirements for conviction, which include willful intent to promote hatred.
But many are not convinced. "We are all appalled by hate-motivated attacks and believe that promoting hatred towards any person or group is wrong," says the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, "So why should this legislation concern us? Because the term 'sexual orientation' does not distinguish between the 'person' and the 'sexual activity.'"
The EFC worries that a person could be accused of promoting hatred by publicly expressing moral views on homosexual activity and portions of the Bible could be labeled hate literature.
"At the very time when such free and wide ranging debate on this issue is most essential to protect our future, Bill C-250 would stifle it with the threat of criminal penalties,
- Marie Cameron
To help stop Bill C-250 from passing, organizations including the CWL are urging all Canadians to call their MPs to voice their strong opposition to Bill C-250. "We also urge them to tell their MP that how they vote on this issue will be an election issue for them," said the CWL president.
Cameron said the impact to society of Bill C-250 is so serious that "we need to exert maximum effort to stop it."
Other national organizations including the Catholic Civil Rights League, Canada Family Action Coalition, and REAL Women of Canada are also asking Canadians to call their MP on Sept. 16 to voice their opposition to Bill C-250. A special web site has been set up at www.CallingForCanada.ca to support the national call-in campaign.