The author of a Canadian bill opponents say will criminalize public expression against homosexual behavior stunned supporters yesterday by admitting he stole an expensive ring at a public jewelry sale.
Party colleague Libby Davies comforts Svend Robinson at his news conference yesterday (CBC News)
Svend Robinson, a Parliament member from British Columbia who has declared he is homosexual, struggled, amid tears, through a statement to a nationally televised audience.
“Something just snapped in this moment of total, utter irrationality,” he said, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
“While attending a public jewelry sale, I pocketed a piece of expensive jewelry,” Robinson said, as he described what happened on Good Friday. “I did this despite knowing full well … that the entire area was under electronic surveillance.”
Robinson, 52, who said he’s undergoing therapy for severe stress, is now under criminal investigation.
A member of Parliament since 1979, having won seven consecutive elections, he temporarily has stepped down as the New Democratic Party’s nominee for his seat.
“As you can imagine, this has been a nightmare,” he said. “I cannot believe that it has happened, but I am human and I have failed.
“I await the decision of Crown counsel and will not seek to in any way avoid full responsibility for my actions should charges be laid in these circumstances.”
Robinson’s controversial bill, which passed the House of Commons last September, 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.
As WorldNetDaily reported, opponents fear if Robinson’s bill 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 now is in the Senate, where it has overwhelming support, but two amendments were introduced April 1, delaying a vote.
The Senate has recessed until April 20, when a vote is scheduled.
A chief opponent of the bill, the Canada Family Action Coalition concedes if a vote takes place, the bill certainly will pass, but intends to keep up pressure against it, noting if the prime minister calls an election before then, the bill will die.
“We are thankful for the delay – and hopefully the complete failure – of Bill C-250,” the group said in a statement. “Freedom of speech and religion have not yet been oppressed by Bill C-250, and we remain optimistic.”
The coalition’s director, Brian Rushfeldt, told WorldNetDaily he did not think Robinson’s current predicament would have any effect on the bill.
“If it was not as far along as it is, it may have,” he said. “In one sense, it really shouldn’t have an effect. It was a personal thing.”
But, he added, “It will certainly have ramifications for his credibility. That is fair criticism.”
Robinson has insisted his bill protects religious expression, but opponents note recent court cases in which judges have favored homosexual rights when they clash with the rights of religious believers.
Some members of Parliament 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 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.”