The Christian pastor who was hauled before the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal (AHRT) for writing a letter to the editor on homosexuality has been exonerated by a Court of Queen’s Bench judge who ruled the letter was not a hate crime but legitimate expression allowed under freedom of speech.
Pastor Stephen Boissoin told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) that he was "overjoyed and relieved" that the lengthy, stressful and expensive seven year legal battle over his letter to the editor has ended in his favor.
Justice Earl C. Wilson overturned a 2008 ruling by the Alberta Human Rights Commission that a letter expressing his views on homosexuality by Stephen Boissoin that was published in the Red Deer Advocate on June 17, 2002 was likely to expose homosexuals to hatred or contempt.
The Alberta Human Rights Commission had ordered Boissoin to desist from expressing his views on homosexuality in any sort of public forum, commanded him to pay damages equivalent to $7,000 to complainant and homosexual activist Dr. Darren Lund, and called for Boissoin to personally apologize to Lund via a public statement in the local newspaper.
"The language does not go so far as to fall within the prohibited status of ‘hate’ or ‘contempt,’" Wilson wrote in his decision and said there was nothing in the letter to suggest it was encouraging anyone to discriminate against homosexuals in areas that lie within provincial jurisdiction and are set out in the statutes, such as housing, employment, or access to goods and services.
"The letter’s target audience are people that (Boissoin) believes are apathetic to the inroads made by the ‘homosexual machine,’ " Wilson said.
"Inferring some sort of call for discriminatory practices prohibited by provincial law is an unreasonable interpretation of the letter’s message."
In his letter Mr. Boissoin called into question new homosexual-rights curricula permeating the province’s educational system, in light of the physical, psychological and moral dangers of homosexuality.
"Children as young as five and six years of age are being subjected to psychologically and physiologically damaging pro-homosexual literature and guidance in the public school system; all under the fraudulent guise of equal rights," wrote Boissoin in the letter.
The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), a free-speech advocacy group and intervener in the case, issued a news release saying it was pleased with yesterday’s ruling but also cautioned that the legislation which was used against Mr. Boissoin is still in force.
"I am pleased that the Human Rights Panel Order against Reverend Boissoin has been overturned," stated John Carpay, lawyer and Executive Director of the CCF.
"Unfortunately, the law that was used against Reverend Boissoin to subject him to expensive and stressful legal proceedings for more than seven years, is still on the books," added Carpay.
"In spite of today’s court ruling, Albertans need to continue to exercise extreme caution when speaking about public policy issues, lest they offend someone who then files a human rights complaint. No citizen is safe from being subjected to a taxpayer-funded prosecution for having spoken or written something that a fellow citizen finds offensive," Carpay concluded.
Boissoin told LSN that he was "overjoyed and relieved" that the decision had gone in his favor, but that he also "felt a bit of righteous anger because for seven and a half years of my life I’ve been dragged through the mud over a community debate that existed in Red Deer, Alberta, which ended up going global because of one complaint."
"However," Mr. Boissoin added, "that one complaint gave me a soap box to share the Gospel and to share what my letter really meant, instead of how it’s been misinterpreted, and given me the chance to speak to many, many homosexuals about the incredible love of God."
Comparing his experience with the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal to the Court of Queen’s Bench hearing, Mr. Boissoin said, "Compared to the HRT which was a hopeless and ridiculous situation where I had no chance at all, when I left the Court of Queen’s Bench (the appeal hearing took place on September 16 & 17) it was very hard to tell which way Judge Wilson would go, but it did seem to me that he had a very strong sense of freedom of speech and freedom of religious expression."
Boissoin was strongly critical of the HRT proceedings, observing that at one point a question was directed to the defense’s sole expert witness by the government appointed lawyer, who asked, "What is the difference between this (Boissoin’s) letter and Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf?"
Judge Wilson’s comments on that question were very strong. "The damning innuendo is obvious," Wilson wrote in his ruling, adding, "On the other hand, if a parallel could be fairly drawn it should be noted that, far from being restrained, Mein Kampf is available at the Calgary Public Library."
Mr. Boissoin concluded with a heartfelt thank you to those who supported him throughout this ordeal.
"I wish to thank everyone who supported me through this very trying time. Over seven years have passed and what I have learned most throughout this time, is that God is incredibly faithful along the way. Never be ashamed to speak what God has put on your heart. Speak with courage and trust that your faithfulness with never return void."
The full text of Justice Wilson’s ruling, Boissoin v. Lund, 2009 ABQB 592, will be made available from the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench website here in the near future.