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What’s in a hate crime?

It’s been an interesting week, hasn’t it?  Hopefully the irony of the Alliance motion, followed by bill C-250 hasn’t been lost on anyone.  On the one hand, a group of "Reformers" in Parliament has pushed hard for a motion to not reform the marriage laws in Canada.  The motion was narrowly defeated.  The next day — the very next day — those same parliamentarians passed a law making extending the definition of the hate crime laws to include gay and lesbian people, curtailing what some see as their right to free speech, and extending the laws unnecessarily in the opinion of others.  Colby Cosh has a great time with these apparent contradictions in his piece titled Jail ’em all, let Svend sort ’em out.

So, what’s in a hate crime?  This handy reference from the University of Ottawa (directed at high schoolers) explains all.  In other words, it’s now against the law to promote genocide against gay people, to promote violence against gay people, and to encourage others to hate gay people.

And what about free speech?  It hasn’t been curtailed in a meaningful way here.  The Supreme Court has already held that the criminal code sections pertaining to the promotion of hatred are not unconstitutional (side note: read section 1 of the Charter, which basically states that Charter Rights are not inviolable — there’s a lot of latitude there).  The definitional extension that Svend Robinson has championed makes gay bashing a crime. 

  

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