Canada Votes to Include 'Sexual Orientation' in Hate Crimes Laws

By Lawrence Morahan | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

( - The Canadian Parliament's approval of legislation to extend hate crimes protection to homosexuals will likely give impetus to calls for similar legislation in the United States, family groups told Thursday.

Brian Rushfeldt, executive director of the Canada Family Action Coalition, said the Canadian Parliament had taken a detrimental turn Wednesday when it passed C-250 a day after it voted against a motion to affirm marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

C-250 amends the hate propaganda section of the Criminal Code to add homosexuals to a list of groups legally protected from incitement of hatred.

Rushfeldt said C-250 was "ill-defined" and could be used to silence free speech and even make it illegal to quote verses from the Bible.

"I'm not overly discouraged because I think Canadians are waking up to the realities of the morally bankrupt government that we have - both over this bill C-250 and the marriage [motion] - and I believe that Canadians are going to certainly react to this very strongly at the next election," he said.

Svend Robinson, the sponsor of C-250, called the concerns "fear-mongering" and "totally without foundation."

"This bill and the current hate propaganda laws fully protect religious freedom," Robinson told .

"Even though it wasn't legally necessary, I agreed to an amendment that explicitly exempts some opinions which are expressed in good faith based on religious texts, such as the Bible, so this is an excuse for those who aren't prepared to be up-front about their opposition to equality for gays and lesbians.

"It's an excuse and it's fear-mongering and it's totally without foundation," he said.

Robinson also rejected opponents' concerns that the term "sexual orientation" is ill-defined.

"The term sexual orientation has been in law, not only in Canada and the United States, but in many other jurisdictions now for well over three decades, and despite the suggestions by some that this might be interpreted to include illegal acts - such as pedophilia and so on - no jurisdiction in Canada or anywhere in the world has ever done that. This is the worst kind of homophobia and it is totally without any legal foundation whatsoever," he said.

The Senate has the option of making an amendment in C-250 and sending it back to Parliament, a move observers said is unlikely. The bill is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by Canada's governor general.

Rushfeldt said homosexual advocacy groups and their supporters will use the passing of C-250 to push for federal hate crimes legislation in the United States.

"Of course [Sen.] Ted Kennedy [D-Mass.], who has been pushing this for a while ... will use this no doubt to try and further his hate crime legislation," Rushfeldt said.

Alan Sears, president of the Alliance Defense Fund, said laws passed in Canada influence Americans more than Americans realize. The U.S. Supreme Court cited foreign law as a guiding light in its June ruling on sodomy laws, Sears pointed out in a commentary Wednesday.

A major problem with C-250 is that it fails to define what "sexual orientation" means, Sears said.

"Does it mean such things as the American Psychiatric Association calls pedophilia, paraphilia, exhibitionism, frotteurism, voyeurism, and sadism? Confusion prevails even among the most radical activists about what such terms really mean, because of their desire to be fully 'inclusive,'" he said.

Robert Bork, a former federal court of appeals judge, warned in a Sept. 8 speech at the American Enterprise Institute that the internationalization of law was further along than many Americans believed.

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