Toronto
2 min

Phelps a no show

But fag-hater vows he's still coming

WHERE'S FRED? He wimped out, but gay activists held a love-in anyway. Credit: Shawn Scallen

Some activists are using US hatemonger Fred Phelps to push for more censorship in Canada.



“Canadian values celebrate diversity, and it’s important to give a message to Mr Phelps that his views are not welcome,” said gay New Democratic Party MP Svend Robinson at a Jun 28 vigil at the Supreme Court Of Canada building in Ottawa.



He – and others – urged the federal government to amend hate speech legislation to include “sexual orientation” in the Criminal Code.



That would mean that anyone speaking their mind – in a way that could be construed as spreading hatred about homosexuals – would be breaking the law.



Despite promises, US bigot and Kansas-based pastor Phelps failed to show Monday, to preach his anti-gay message and burn the Canadian flag.



But more than 500 gay and human rights activists rallied for an hour in 30°C temperatures. They included a group brandishing a banner from the University of Toronto.



“We left this morning at four, right after celebrating Pride,” said

23-year-old Malte Goebel who, together with his friends, jumped on a bus for the six-hour trip to Ottawa. (Phelps didn’t show in Toronto, either.)



“It’s offensive that this guy comes… to burn the Canadian flag and to protest the ruling of the Canadian supreme court,” said the third-year exchange student from Germany.



Phelps said the recent M versus H ruling, about same-sex spousal support payments after a split-up, was about legalizing gay marriage.



He runs the godhatesfags.com website, and is known for picketing funerals of gay men – including that of murdered gay college student Matthew Shepard in Wyoming.



He’s called Canada “a malignant tumour” and the “sperm bank of Satan.”



Shirley Phelps-Roper, Phelps’s daughter, issued a statement saying that her father decided at the last minute to abort because he feared inadequate police protection.



“Your police officers are as black-hearted as the perverts.”



Phelps had asked Prime Minister Chrétien for special security, including mounted police and extra rows of riot barricades.



In addition to fears for his safety, Phelps may have been put off after his reservations were canceled by an Ottawa hotel.



About 30 RCMP and local police officers stood guard for more than four hours outside the Supreme Court building. A few steps away, members of Ottawa’s media camped around a tiny barricaded corner reserved for the preacher and his followers.



Phelps had an 11am to 2pm permit.



The vigil had a distinctly religious flavour, and heard from several religious leaders, local and federal politicians and the Ottawa Gay Men’s Chorus



Reverend Peter Coffin, Anglican Bishop of Ottawa, told the crowd that “Christ died for all of us.



“We may not see eye to eye, but hate is not what Canadians want.”



Phelps has said he will continue his campaign by burning flags at Canadian embassies in Washington, New York and Chicago, and that he intends to return to Ottawa to picket the “Godless Supreme Court” on Sun, Jul 18 – just as lesbian and gay Pride celebrations in Ottawa come to a close.



Phelps said he’ll also picket “Ottawa fag churches” on Mon, Jul 19.