Saskatchewan’s top court has overturned a ruling against a man who was distributing anti-gay pamphlets, saying there is a difference between hate speech against homosexual acts and condemning gay people themselves.
Bill Whatcott will not have to pay the $17,500 in compensation a provincial tribunal awarded in 2005 to four people who complained his flyers exposed them to hatred, the Court of Appeal ruled this week. The pamphlets — one of which was entitled “Sodomites in our Public Schools” — used crude and offensive language, but they were protected by freedom of expression provisions in the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, the Thursday ruling concluded. The pamphlets were distributed in Saskatoon and Regina in 2001 and 2002. The flyers were expressing moral objections to homosexual practices rather than condemnation of gay people themselves, and they were part of a public debate about sexual information taught in schools, the court decision states. “Context is of particular importance when considering complaints based on sexual orientation and the impact on freedom of expression,” the judges wrote.
This ruling is, of course, a victory for (disgusting) free speech. But don’t expect American talibangelists to stop citing the case as an example of Christian repression. I doubt they’ll note this at all.