Judge overturns hate speech ruling against Canadian pastor
December 21, 2009
(christiansunite.com) - On December 3, a Court of Queen's Bench judge overturned a December 2007 ruling by the Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC) that a letter written by Stephen Boissoin published in a local newspaper broke provincial law against spreading hatred.
In late November, the Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC) ruled that Pastor Stephen Boissoin and the Concerned Christian Coalition (CCC) violated Alberta's human rights law by publishing a letter in a local newspaper that was "likely to expose homosexuals to hatred or contempt because of their sexual preference". On May 30, in the penalty phase of the proceedings, the AHRC ruled that Boissoin and CCC must pay damages equivalent to $7,000 as a result of the tribunal's decision to side with the complainant, homosexual activist Darren Lund
Justice E.C. Wilson ruled that the AHRC panel chair Lori Andreachuk had made many errors in her ruling. The judge ruled that Andreachuk's order that Boissoin pay $5,000 and refrain from making "disparaging remarks" about homosexuals could not be enforced, as it was "unlawful or unconstitutional."
The judge said that while Boissoin's remarks were "jarring, offensive, bewildering, puerile, nonsensical and insulting," they were not hateful or extreme and that there was nothing in the letter to suggest it was exhorting Albertans to discriminate against homosexuals in areas which fall under provincial jurisdiction. At last report, Darren Lund, who launched the complaint against Boissoin, has not decided whether he will appeal this ruling.
In another religious freedom case in Canada, Christian Horizons, a Christian organization that assists individuals with developmental disabilities, will be appealing a May 2008 ruling by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT) on December 15-17. The OHRT ruled that Christian Horizons violated the rights of a former worker, Connie Heintz, by terminating her employment when she revealed that she was a lesbian. The ruling ordered Christian Horizons to compensate Heintz $23,000 in lost wages and to stop requiring its staff to sign an explicitly Christian morality code.
Thank the Lord that the ruling against Stephen Boissoin was overturned. Ask the Lord to give the believers involved in the Christian Horizons case Christ-like endurance as they stand up for their beliefs. Pray that Canada will uphold the religious freedom of its citizens.