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Facebook outrage over letter published in le Soleil

Opinion piece slams province's anti-homophobia plans

Controversy is brewing over a letter published in a Quebec City daily newspaper that lashes out against the province’s plans to combat homophobia.

The Quebec Policy Against Homophobia is the first of its kind in North America, said Quebec’s justice minister Kathleen Weil at a press conference in December. Click here to read the entire document. The document outlines broad goals for government action, with a committee expected to be formed this month to work out concrete steps.

Written as an open letter to Weil, the authors denounce the policy as an attack on the heterosexual majority and their capability to reason.

Signed jointly by four retired philosophy professors — John White, Gérard Lévesque, Charles Cauchy, Maurice Cormier — the letter accuses the Quebec government of ignorance of the will of the majority when it comes to “the homosexual ideology.” They say the policy fuels “heterophobia,” on the basis that the majority of Quebec citizens believe in the “man-woman union.”

In particular, the authors take issue with the following statement of the government’s anti-homophobia policy:

“Prejudice, whether based on beliefs, education or fear of the unknown, supports homophobic attitudes and behaviour.”

The authors write that, to disagree with the homosexual lifestyle is an ideology that can also come about through “common sense” and “rational thought.” They cite procreation as the basis for sex as an example of rationality.

Shortly after the letter was published, a Facebook group was created to help nudge along the debate. This group is currently debating the ideas of rational thought, nature versus reason, the policy, the authors’ ages as well as whether they should take to the streets for a demonstration.

One member, Audrey Ghali-Lachapelle, says “these professors are not philosophers! Philosophy should have open curiosity about the world and not be dogmatic and reject the other!”

Reglisse Québec, a Quebec City-based drag queen, says an apology is needed. “It’s not the newspaper that should apologize, it’s the authors. A newspaper exists to diffuse the various viewpoints, even if they don’t agree with ours.”

Laurent McCutcheon, president of Gai-Écoute fought back by writing his own letter. For eight years, McCutcheon has worked with the provincial government on the anti-homophobia policy. In his rebuttal, which has been sent to le Soleil but has not been published as of Jan 15, he refutes the authors’ claims and accuses the men of hiding behind their titles as a way to make homophobic philosophical statements.

But the crux of the issue is larger than a mere bone to pick with a couple of retired profs, he hastens to say. “If it had been a simple person that had written that, I wouldn’t have answered. But because they signed as philosophy teachers, I felt a need to speak out,” he told Xtra in an interview.

In closing, White, Lévesque, Cauchy and Cormier add that while the document makes “excellent recommendations,” it denigrates the majority of the population, encourages “heterophobia and potentially posits Quebec as a world-leader in the denigration of man-woman orientations.” They add that “refusing to attribute man-woman unions as the normal and the best orientation, is depriving [that union] the dignity it deserves.”

At press time, professors White, Lévesque, Cauchy and Cormier could not be reached for comment.

Note: The Soleil letter was originally published in French, with sections reprinted here in English, translated by the reporter.