Despite recent denials by Stephen Harper, The Globe And Mail has proof that the Conservative government has been planning a Defence Of Religion Act.
In the immediate aftermath of losing his Commons vote to reconsider same-sex marriage last December, Harper denied any plans to introduce legislation that would have given special human-rights and freedom of speech protections for religious bigots.
But a Globe & Mail freedom of information request confirms what they first reported in October 2006: the federal Department of Justice was preparing just such legislation.
Though the information was heavily blacked out, and delivered to the paper’s office on the Friday afternoon that the House was preparing for a two-week break, the report makes it clear that Lisa Hitch, a Justice Department senior counsel, held a September meeting to discuss protections for religious freedoms, sent emails to colleagues discussing possible amendments to the Criminal Code, and even referenced a controversial Alberta private member’s bill that was denounced by civil libertarians and human-rights groups.
Hitch’s research also included conservative websites including campaignlifecoalition.com, lifestie.net, evangelicalfellowship.com and the now silent thescaryliberals.com/blog.
The documents also make it clear that former Justice Minister Vic Toews was personally involved in nurturing the project.
SCARY LIBERAL RETIRES
Tom Wappel, the Liberal MP best known for his opposition to all things gay, won’t be running in the next federal election.
Wappel was voted to represent Scarborough West in 1988 and has voted against his own government to oppose including sexual orientation in hate-crimes legislation in 1995, to oppose protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in 1996 and to oppose recognizing same-sex relationships in 2000. In 2003 he unsuccessfully opposed adding sexual orientation to the list of categories where hate-crime designation could be applied. In 2005, Wappel opposed Prime Minister Paul Martin’s same-sex marriage bill, calling it “discriminatory, a sham and a hoax.”
Through all this, and more, Liberal leaders continued to allow him to run for election under their banner.
In 1994, Wappel called homosexuality “statistically abnormal, physically abnormal and morally immoral,” a quote the Conservatives dug up in the 2006 federal election to demonstrate the Liberal Party isn’t as tolerant as it claims to be. Later in 1994 Wappel described homosexuality as “not genetic, but a choice,” but argued that religion is “virtually genetic, since it is passed from generation to generation.”
In the March 2000 edition of Theological Digest And Outlook, Wappel wrote about his attitude toward gay liberation.
“In 1994, the activist homosexual movement began to push its agenda forward. I was there to oppose it, again based on my Christian heritage and belief system…. What is this [homosexual] agenda? It is to force everyone, not just to tolerate homosexuality, but to actively accept and embrace it as normal, so as to permit homosexual marriage, adoption and benefits. They want to make it illegal to say anything negative about the practice, even if you, as a matter of religion, believe it to be abnormal and sinful. The activists are well on the way to the successful completion of their agenda.”
As the party’s immigration critic in 1991, Wappel prepared a policy paper that would have denied refugee claims to HIV-positive people.
He also opposed abortion and free-trade agreement — but advocated for food nutrition labels.
TRANS RIGHTS IN TEACHER’S CONTRACT
Gender identity is protected from discrimination in a new collective agreement negotiated by the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers’ Association. It is believed to be the first of its kind in Canada.
“As teachers, we have been very active the past five years working with management and trustees of the Vancouver School Board to make schools welcoming for all members of our school community,” says union president Glen Hansman.
“Having this new language is a significant step in protecting trans-identified and gender non-conforming employees against transphobia and other forms of harassment.”
Significantly, the new contract language specifically states that nothing “requires the affected employee to actually possess a characteristic that is the basis for discrimination,” notes a union media release.
GAY TEENS GET BASHED MORE
A Boston study found that gay and lesbian teens are three times more likely than straight teens to report bullying.
An online medical news service, WebMD, reported Mar 30 that Children’s Hospital Boston studied more than 7,500 US youths between ages 14 and 22 in 2001. Teens were asked to report both bullying and their sexual orientation.
Some 90 percent described themselves as “completely heterosexual,” another eight percent called themselves “mostly heterosexual,” and about one percent called themselves bisexual.
Lesbian or gay participants were three times as likely as heterosexual youth to report having been bullied.
In contrast, lesbian or gay youth were about 80 percent less likely than heterosexuals to say they had bullied someone, the researchers note.
“It’s clear that sexual minority youth are a population vulnerable to bullying,” says researcher Elise Berlan in a news release.
“This needs to be addressed, particularly in schools.”