Toronto police have charged a notorious anti-LGBT activist with distributing hate literature at the city’s Pride parade.
Bill Whatcott, dressed as a “gay zombie” in a green bodysuit, crashed the 2016 Toronto Pride parade, handing out pamphlets that contained graphic images and homophobic messaging to parade-goers.
Two years later, a Canada-wide arrest warrant has been issued for Whatcott, who is charged with “wilful promotion of hatred.”
Whatcott has engaged in public anti-LGBT demonstrations across Canada for decades. In 2013, he lost a Supreme Court appeal of a Saskatchewan human rights tribunal verdict against him for distributing similar flyers.
Whatcott told Xtra that he intends to turn himself into police on June 29, but believes the charges against him are unjust.
“I can see where it would piss off some thin-skinned homosexuals, but it was definitely no call to genocide or violence,” he says.
The flyers Whatcott and others distributed contained a photo of anal warts and a man covered in AIDS-related lesions, claiming that the “gay zombies” were concerned for the health of homosexuals.
“Natural law is clear, homosexuality is incompatible with human nature,” the flyers read. “Disease, death and confusion are the sad and sordid realities of the homosexual lifestyle.”
The flyers also singled out Liberal party politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne.
George Smitherman, who was the first openly gay member of the Ontario cabinet, says that he’s glad to see Toronto police bringing charges against Whatcott.
“It sounds like what I would characterize as a great step in further exposing this hate-spewer for what he truly is,” he says.
Smitherman, who is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Whatcott for distributing literature at the 2016 parade, says he was disgusted by the flyers when he saw them.
“It’s so reprehensible in its approach, both in terms of disgusting stereotypes that it relies upon and also the tactic of directly attacking the political supporters of our community,” he says.
The lawsuit is also seeking to reveal the identities of the other people who distributed the flyers, as well as their financial backers.
Whatcott, who denies he is a homophobic, says that as a Christian, he feels compelled to speak out against the “gay lifestyle.”
He believes that the police are overreaching by charging him.
“Do you think anyone committed suicide after that or went and hid in a basement for fear that I was going to come after them and kill them?” he asks. “Now they’re probably going to get 1000 more flyers in downtown Toronto when they have to let me out of jail eventually.”
But Smitherman says that the LGBT community will continue to stand up to people like Whatcott.
“I think that it’s necessary for our community to protect itself against people who have evil intentions,” he says.