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Anti-gay activists arrested at University of Regina

Police told Bill Whatcott and Peter LaBarbera they were trespassing

Canadian anti-gay activist Bill Whatcott (in white T-shirt) was arrested at the University of Regina, along with American anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera, for trespassing. They were both later charged with mischief. Credit:
Two anti-gay activists, Canadian Bill Whatcott and American Peter LaBarbera, were arrested for trespassing on the University of Regina campus April 14. NewsTalk980CJME

Police have arrested two anti-gay activists, Bill Whatcott and Peter LaBarbera, at the University of Regina, News Talk 980 reports.

According to the report, the two were later charged with mischief.

In a YouTube video of the incident, Whatcott is standing near a sign that reads “Sodomy is a sin” when a police officer approaches and asks him to leave the campus. Whatcott refuses, saying he has a Charter right to speak there. “If you put handcuffs on me, I’ll leave, but you’re gonna have to take me off the campus,” he tells the officer. He also says he believes he has “a moral responsibility to share the Gospel with these students.” Whatcott is then told he is being arrested for trespassing.

Whatcott has been the subject of a number of human rights complaints for publishing and distributing four anti-gay flyers.  In February 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that two of the four flyers violated the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, while the other two were deemed offensive but not a violation of the code.

LaBarbera, the head of a group called Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, was standing a few feet away from where Whatcott was arrested at the university April 14. He was also handcuffed and led away after he told police officers that he would “stand in solidarity“ with Whatcott. LaBarbera was then told he was also under arrest for trespassing.

This is the latest run-in LaBarbera has had with Canadian authorities. He was detained, questioned by border services agents at the Regina airport, and had his luggage, laptop and cellphone examined when he arrived in Saskatchewan, where he was scheduled to make a presentation at a conference.

In a statement on his website, LaBarbera says officials presented him with a document “outlining my denial of entry under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act,” citing hate propaganda provisions. 

“A preliminary decision was made to deny my entrance into Canada on the basis that my speech at the [Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association (SPLA) conference] would violate Canada’s ‘Hate Propaganda’ law (essentially the potential for ‘public incitement of hatred’ against a group of people based on their ‘sexual orientation’),” he notes in the statement. LaBarbera was eventually allowed entry and went on to address the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association (SPLA) conference in Weyburn.

He alleges he was “flagged” at the border because of efforts by the group Intolerance Free Weyburn to stop him from entering the country.