Canada’s most outspoken crusader against homosexuality has won another court battle over political correctness. Saskatchewan’s Bill Whatcott was found not guilty Monday of mischief for pamphleting on the University of Regina campus last April, alongside fellow acquittee and U.S. activist Peter LaBarbera.
LaBarbera, who is the head of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, in addition to being initially charged like Whatcott with a crime that did not exist, was stopped, questioned, and searched when he entered Canada, on suspicion of carrying hate literature. Then, after his arrest for “assault by trespass,” a charge previously removed from the books, he was jailed overnight as a flight risk and then deported.
“You guys have got to do something about your anti-hate law,” LaBarbera told LifeSiteNews after learning of his acquittal. “You get suspected of spreading hate and put through arduous searches when all you are doing is espousing traditional morality.” Mr. LaBarbera said the news of his acquittal “has lifted my spirits for Christmas.”
Whatcott has won several acquittals for pamphleting against both homosexuality and abortion on various Western Canadian campuses over the past dozen years—so many his previous cases were cited as precedents in this trial. But he has lost one big case, a 2013 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that a polemical pamphlet he distributed against employing homosexual teachers in public schools was hateful.
“I think that ruling emboldened the university to go after me,” Whatcott told LifeSiteNews. “I know they aren’t happy [at the University of Regina] with this court ruling but I think it is good for them. They need to be a free and open place that allows debate.”
Madame Justice Marylynne Beaton agreed. In her careful, 28-page judgement, she found several grounds for dismissing the Crown’s claim that the pair had committed mischief (the ultimate charge) by refusing to leave campus when instructed to do so by university representatives and police.
First, she ruled they were not trespassing at all because they were not getting in the way, and, second, because parts of a public university can be considered public, as in government property, where the Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies with its guarantee of freedom of speech; third, even if it were private property, it’s not trespassing to enter someone’s property for the purpose of communication (thus exempting couriers, canvassers and pamphleteers).
“They had a right to communicate in a peaceful manner on university property,” she wrote, while admitting the university in principle has a right to impose “reasonable limits” on free speech.
The university had argued it had a good reason: its anti-discrimination policy, which the two activists’ oral statements, signs, and pamphlets violated by condemning homosexuality as sinful. But the judge ruled that the content of the flyers was irrelevant. What mattered was the degree to which the two men interfered with the university’s business. “In this case, the University's response was disproportionate to the peaceful distribution of flyers and was not reasonable and demonstrably justified.”
Whatcott wasted no time in warning the school to expect his return. From the courtroom steps he declared, “I wanted a table to discuss homosexual activism, homofascism, neo-Marxist bias at the university, the existence of God and moral absolutes, as well as abortion with their students. I expect to have a table when I arrive at the University of Regina Campus at 10:00 am on Monday, January 12, 2015.”
The university, for its part, released a statement affirming its commitment to “providing a safe, respectful and inclusive place for our students to study and live.”
Whatcott, though pleased with his victory, unhappily reported that the publicity from the case “has reduced my work by about 50 percent.” A rug and carpet cleaner by trade, he has been targeted by a boycott organized by a pro-gay group in his hometown of Weyburn. “Some of my former customers are sympathetic to the homosexuals. Others are just afraid of them,” he told LifeSiteNews. “The town has a lot of the most hateful people in it.”