SCC Upholds Anti-Hate Provisions in Saskatchewan Human Rights Law

On February 27th, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the main anti-hate provisions in Saskatchewan’s human rights law, ruling that the anti-gay speech in flyers distributed by Christian activist William Whatcott is not protected by the Charter. In the process, the SCC also struck down vague wording in Saskatchewan’s human right code that prohibited the distribution of material that “ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity” of people based on their sexual orientation. The SCC stressed the importance of equality protections for vulnerable minorities against “hatred.”

Of the four flyers handed out by Whatcott in 2001 and 2002 in Regina and Saskatoon, two were found to have overstepped the line into “harmful” discourse. According to the Court, the flyers had the “hallmarks” of hatred, as they targeted and described gays as a menace that could threaten the safety and well-being of others, while referring to sources like the Bible to lend credibility. Rothstein J., for a 6-0 panel, wrote “It delegitimizes homosexuals by referring to them as filthy or dirty sex addicts and by comparing them to pedophiles, a traditionally reviled group in society.”

The Court ordered Whatcott to compensate the complainants $7,500. Whatcott described the ruling as “rubbish,” and stated that the ruling criminalizes a large part of Christian speech on homosexuality and morality. He suggests he may release another flyer expressing this point.

As to its ruling, the SCC stated that it had struck an appropriate balance between religious belief and the other Charter values of “commitment to equality and respect for group identity and the inherent dignity owed to all human beings.”

 

For the full article from The Toronto Star:

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/02/27/hate_speech_ruling_antigay_pamphlets_broke_law_supreme_court_of_canada_says.html

About ZS

First year law student at the Univeristy of Victoria. Graduated from UBC with a major in International Relations and a minor in English Literature in 2012. The views expressed in the blog are not necessarily those of AdviceScene, nor the writer, nor do they consistute legal advice.

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