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Anti-gay crusader vows to ignore high court ruling

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OTTAWA -- A Saskatchewan anti-gay crusader says he'll ignore a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that he violated human-rights rules when he distributed pamphlets denouncing homosexuals.

In a 6-0 decision Wednesday, the high court found two of the four flyers distributed by William Whatcott violated Saskatchewan's Human Rights Code.

Those flyers referred to gay men as sodomites and pedophiles.

But the court struck down some language in the provincial code, clearing Whatcott of any wrongdoing in connection with two other flyers.

Whatcott dismissed the ruling, insisting he won't stop distributing material expressing his religious views.

"I believe God has called me to speak on these moral issues," Whatcott told The Canadian Press. "So looking at it from that perspective, I'll likely put out another flyer articulating the Judeo-Christian viewpoint on homosexuality in my usual blunt and forthright manner."

He referred to the high court justices as socialists "who've butchered our law, or our tradition of free speech."

"I'm not going to pay a lot of attention to it. I view this ruling as rubbish and I think that our seven Supreme Court justices are a disgrace."

Whatcott produced and distributed leaflets in 2000 and 2001 that contained inflammatory statements about gay men, prompting complaints to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

A tribunal ruled Whatcott violated the province's human rights code, but that finding was overturned by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

The commission appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing Whatcott's flyers essentially asserted gays and lesbians are less than human, exposing them to discrimination.

The high court agreed with respect to two of the flyers, saying they constituted hate speech under the code.

The vilifying and derogatory representations used in the flyers created a "tone" of hatred against homosexuals, Justice Marshall Rothstein wrote on behalf of the court. "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 Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Saskatchewan charter. It found that language in the code defining hate literature as something that "ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity of any person" is unconstitutional.

The ruling could have implications for other provinces with similar language in their human rights codes.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 28, 2013 A11

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