REGINA, Saskatchewan, April 11, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A prominent U.S. pro-family activist who was detained by the Canadian Border Services Agency Thursday for alleged violations of Canada’s “hate propaganda” law has won his appeal of the decision to deny him entrance into Canada.
Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, will now be permitted to speak at the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association provincial conference this weekend as scheduled.
“We didn’t even really have to make the case,” he told LifeSiteNews. “She just said they were unsubstantiated allegations.”
LaBarbera had been targeted by a makeshift group known as “Intolerance Free Weyburn,” which pressured the government to deny him access to the country. LaBarbera believes he was flagged by customs as a result.
Saskatchewan MP Maurice Vellacott was relieved by the decision at the hearing. “Kudos to border services,” he told LifeSiteNews. He said the exemptions for religious belief in Section 319 of the Criminal Code, which covers “hate propaganda,” were found to cover Mr. LaBarbera’s communications. The section, he said, “is not to be used for those who in good faith are speaking truth into a situation.”
The formal document issued by CBSA agent Darren Banick for the initial denial of entry into Canada expressed concern that LaBarbera “may commit acts which would be against the Criminal Code of Canada.”
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Section 319(1) of Canada’s Criminal Code bars “public incitement of hatred … against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.” One of the categories of identifiable groups include those based on ‘sexual orientation’. Breaching the law carries a punishment of up to two years imprisonment.
“The evidence was not there to support the allegations” of incitement of hatred, said Vellacott.
Exemptions contained in the law include:
- (a) if he establishes that the statements communicated were true;
- (b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;
- (c) if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true
LaBarbera said the customs agent went through his luggage, his phone and laptop, and played a DVD of a speech he had given Wednesday. He then reviewed AFTAH’s website, pulled up the “about page,” and said, according to LaBarbera, “So you’re targeting an identifiable group of people based on sexual orientation.”
“The Orwellian experience at Customs dragged on for more than three hours,” he said. “Finally, after 1:00 A.M., I was released pending my appeal.”
Marci Millette, president of Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association, was flabbergasted at LaBarbera's detainment. “Are these tyrants going to detain Christian priests and pastors next? They preach the same Gospel messages,” she said.