In April of 1998, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered Alberta to add “sexual orientation” to its human rights legislation, in Vriend v. Alberta.
Approaching the 20th anniversary of this ruling, the University of Alberta recently organized an event about the Vriend case.
The March 19 gathering was not to discuss or analyze this court decision, but to celebrate it.
Only those who see the ruling favourably were invited by the U of A to speak at this festive forum.
When pondering the Vriend ruling, it is important to remember that, during the 1990s, activists across Canada were claiming that adding “sexual orientation” to human rights laws would never, ever lead to a Christian getting in trouble for saying that gay sex is sinful.
There was no way, they said, that Christian schools and universities would be prevented from preaching and practicing their ancient beliefs about marriage, gender and sexual morality.
Yet after the Supreme Court added “sexual orientation” to Alberta’s human rights laws, pastor Stephen Boissoin was prosecuted over a letter to the editor in the Red Deer Advocate, in which he denounced the homosexual political agenda.
In Ontario, printer Scott Brockie was prosecuted under human rights laws for having refused to print letterhead, envelopes and business cards for a homosexual advocacy group.
Mr. Brockie had never refused to serve gay customers. But he refused this particular printing job because he said the group in question promoted the homosexual lifestyle.
Law societies in Ontario and BC have argued in court that Trinity Western University (TWU) cannot have a law school, simply because TWU’s Community Covenant requires staff and students to refrain from sex outside of the marriage of one man and one woman.
In Chilliwack, BC, elected school trustee Barry Neufeld has been threatened with a human rights complaint, and publicly urged by the Education Minister to resign, simply for expressing his disagreement with a curriculum that teaches children that gender is fluid, that there are more than two genders, and that gender is not determined by biological sex.
An Edmonton couple was told in 2017 that they could not adopt kids, in spite of the government recognizing that they would be loving, stable, competent, good parents. The couple’s application was rejected solely because this husband and wife accept Biblical teachings about sex, gender and marriage.
All of this is a radical departure from what the gay rights movement was fighting for in the 1960s: for the government to leave them alone. Repealing the criminal prohibition on sodomy, Pierre Trudeau declared that there is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.
This leave-me-alone, respect-my-privacy libertarianism, which once animated the gay rights movement, has been replaced by a movement to compel – through coercive state power – universal agreement with and support for homosexuality. Across Canada, the movement to silence criticism of homosexuality (and now transgenderism) through laws and government policies grows stronger by the day.
In a free country, you can argue that gay sex is sinful, or that gay sex is normal, natural and good. But a society can no longer be called “free” once the state attaches penalties, or withholds benefits, for speaking out one’s moral or philosophical beliefs, or for practicing them peacefully with others in voluntary communities of like-minded citizens. In Canada today, expressing the “wrong” opinions will result in not being allowed to open or run a law school (even one acknowledged to be academically sound), not being allowed to adopt children, and not being allowed to maintain religious schools and universities.
Don’t expect to hear this perspective on individual freedom, or on the transformation of the gay rights movement from libertarian to totalitarian, at the University of Alberta. This being a Canadian university in 2018, the thought of inviting speakers with opposing views did not cross anyone’s mind.