Canada’s governor general, the representative of Queen Elizabeth II, signed into law yesterday a controversial measure opposed by religious believers and free-speech advocates who say it will criminalize public expression against homosexual behavior.
The bill, passed 59-11 by the Senate on Wednesday, adds sexual orientation as a protected category in Canada’s genocide and hate-crimes legislation, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
The House of Commons passed the bill in September, 141-110.
As WorldNetDaily reported, opponents have feared if it becomes law, the Bible will be deemed “hate literature” under the criminal code in certain instances, as evidenced by the case of a Saskatchewan man fined by a provincial human-rights tribunal for taking out a newspaper ad with Scripture references to verses about homosexuality.
The bill’s sponsor, openly homosexual MP Svend Robinson, has insisted it protects religious expression, but opponents, such as the Canada Family Action Coalition, note recent court cases in which judges have favored homosexual rights when they clash with the rights of religious believers.
Some members of Parliament have called it a “dangerous” law that muzzles free speech, including Liberal Party member John McKay, who dubbed it a “chill bill.”
“Anybody who has views on homosexuality that differ from Svend Robinson’s will be exposed rather dramatically to the joys of the Criminal Code,” McKay said last fall.
Robinson, who recently in a tearful apology to supporters admitted stealing a $50,000 ring, has said fears that freedom of speech and religion will suffer are “a mask for homophobia for people who don’t want to be honest about the real reason why they don’t want to include sexual orientation in the law.”