Cases Challenge Limits
Expressing religiously informed beliefs can get complicated when they chal- lenge contemporary assumptions about homosexuality and abortion. By Stephen Bedard
In 2009 Tamil protesters brought Toronto to a stand- still. When asked about how they would respond, one police official explained to a reporter, “This is what is great about Canada – we have the freedom to protest like this!” Surely many Canadians were
encouraged by such an affirmation.
Unfortunately, for at least one woman watching the
news that day, that statement did not ring true. Linda
Gibbons was watching from behind bars, wearing her
prison uniform. That day was only one of many she has
spent in jail for protesting against abortion.
Her case is one of several causing people to question
the limits of the freedom of expression so many Canadians take for granted.
Perhaps the most notorious of these recent cases is
William Whatcott’s. In 2001 and 2002 he distributed fly-
ers in Regina and Saskatoon expressing his beliefs about
homosexuality. He was later found to have contravened
the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, which prohibits
material that “promotes hatred against individuals be-
cause of their sexual orientation.”
Although some Evangelicals objected to the content
and tone of Whatcott’s flyers, the case raised clear ques-
tions concerning the limits to expressing personal religious
beliefs. For this reason, The Evangelical Fellowship of Can-
ada (EFC) intervened in the long process of legal proceed-