© 2003 WorldNetDaily.com
Canada's House of Commons passed a controversial bill yesterday opposed by religious believers and free-speech advocates who say it will criminalize public expression against homosexual behavior.
The bill, passed 141-110, adds sexual orientation as a protected category in Canada's genocide and hate-crimes legislation, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
"It's been a good week for equality in Canada," said the bill's sponsor, Svend Robinson, an openly homosexual member of Parliament.
The vote came just a day after MPs narrowly defeated a nonbinding motion reaffirming marriage is between a man and woman only.
As WorldNetDaily reported, opponents fear if Robinson's bill becomes law, the Bible will be deemed "hate literature" under the criminal code in certain instances, as evidenced by the case of a Saskatchewan man fined by a provincial human-rights tribunal for taking out a newspaper ad with Scripture references to verses about homosexuality.
"I was not surprised it passed, because we have a morally bankrupt government which cannot see past its bizarre liberal ideology," Brian Rushfeldt, executive director of the Canada Family Action Coalition, told WorldNetDaily.
The bill now goes to the Senate, which usually rubber stamps the House's legislation. Rushfeldt said he hopes the Senate will at least debate the issue and bring up "inherent dangers" in the bill not discussed in the House, but thinks that is not likely.
The legislation then is signed into law by the governor general, who represents the queen.
Robinson insisted an amendment protects religious expression, but opponents note recent court cases in which judges have favored homosexual rights when they clash with the rights of religious believers.
Some members of Parliament called it a "dangerous" law that muzzles free speech, including Liberal Party member John McKay, who dubbed it a "chill bill."
"Anybody who has views on homosexuality that differ from Svend Robinson's will be exposed rather dramatically to the joys of the Criminal Code," he said, according to the Edmonton Sun.
Rushfeldt contends one of the law's dangers is the term "sexual orientation" is not defined. He noted the American Psychiatric Association lists 24 behaviors under "sexual orientation." They include polygamy, bestiality and pedophilia.
"So if in fact the term does include pedophilia, the law protects it [from 'hate speech']," he said.
Robinson said fears that freedom of speech and religion will suffer are "a mask for homophobia for people who don't want to be honest about the real reason why they don't want to include sexual orientation in the law," according to the Toronto Globe and Mail.
He said he regularly receives hateful e-mails, the Toronto paper said, and his Burnaby, B.C., office was trashed in 1988 when he became Canada's first openly homosexual member of Parliament.