Extended run for cruel joke - Committee seems a mockery of justice








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Legal - Canada

March 26, 2003

Extended run for cruel joke
Committee seems a mockery of justice

"There is no evidence before the Court that the proposed change to the common law definition of marriage will cause harm to Canadians. MCCT should not be subjected by Parliament to an inquisitorial process in search of harm when the Court found none existed."
Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto
Factum for the appeal of the Ontario marriage case (April 2003)

Witnesses appearing before the parliament’s Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights have said that homosexuals:

·        Are an “aberration” that will cause the “destruction of our civilization” (Feb. 6)

·        Would “create a new morality in which homosexuality is not merely tolerated but is normalized and would branch out into sexual activity with babies, children of both sexes, and with animals." (Feb. 11)

·        Are comparable to alcoholics. (Feb. 11)

·        Become gay because of a history of childhood molestation. (Feb. 11)

·        Are mostly drug users, unlike heterosexuals. (Feb. 12)

·        Can change sexual orientation:  “It seems it’s acquired.” (Feb. 12)

·        Are more prone to infidelity than heterosexuals. (Feb. 12)

·        Could be induced to “abstain or leave the country” if “body parts are lopped off”. (Feb. 13)

·        Have gained rights in cases “based on emotionalism, the quivering lip and the teary eye” but “thank God, [rights for gays] can be repealed”. (Feb. 13)

·        Are “repugnant” and “detestable” and when gays have been tolerated in society, “God providentially and in judgment wiped those civilizations off the face of the earth”. (Feb. 18)

·        Are a gateway to incest, polygamy and bestiality (Feb. 18).

 All of the above statements went unchallenged by Andy Scott (Liberal party), the chair of the committee. He seems to have given a free pass to certain guests of the committee who spew hateful statements about gays. In the absence of appropriate moderation from the chair, committee member Svend Robinson has had to fill the role abdicated so partially by Mr. Scott.

"I'm disappointed that no other member of this committee has spoken out,” Robinson has said to Scott and his fellow committee members. “If this kind of hatred and venom were directed at blacks or aboriginal people, does anyone think that members around this committee would be silent and just listen as this kind of hatred is spewed? I don't think so."

But when Judy Darcy, National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees objected to “sweeping stereotypical and bigoted statements” (Feb. 25), Andy Scott was quick to interject and “ask all members and the panel to try to keep the language as moderate as we can.”

“With respect, Mr. Scott,” Darcy replied, “immoderate statements elicit immoderate responses.”

Apparently gays can be described and portrayed in the most monstrous manner, but one must not respond with a factual description of the source of such statements.  Bigot: one who is “obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his own church, party, belief or opinion” (Webster’s).  That would be name-calling.

Indeed.  Andy Scott has ineffectually presided over the justice and human rights committee in a manner that has made Liberal justice a farce and sham.  He has attracted widespread and deserved criticism on the proceedings.  The Times Colonist referred to his committee as a “deck stacked against gay marriage” and the Globe and Mail ran a headline saying “Hearings slammed as gay-bashing”.

Fellow liberal and committee member Pat O’Brien said (Feb. 18) that he hoped to “defend marriage as it’s currently defined.  I feel strongly on that point.”  John McKay, another Liberal on the committee warned one witness (Feb. 6) "you will destroy the symbolism that you crave" by entering the institute of marriage.

Under such prejudicial circumstances, with an unbalanced approach, it is not surprising that many are shocked and disturbed by this process sponsored by the Justice Minister of Canada.  It shows the moral bankruptcy of the Liberal Party as they strive to find ways to avoid honouring charter rights for gays and lesbians.

"I feel that there were people who had already made up their minds and they're just here to prove their point. Their questions are not actual questions.... Their questions are ways of stating their already decided opinions. There was a badgering of the witness, not letting people finish their sentences," Gabriel Pinkstone, from the Lesbian Mothers Association of Quebec, told Southam News.

One couple involved in the Ontario marriage case wrote to Andy Scott today to tell him that they would not be keeping their April 10 appointment with the committee.

"I have observed a lack of impartiality, an unwillingness to listen respectfully to any other opinions,” Barb McDowall and Gail Donnelly said in their letter to Scott, “ ... the atmosphere has been abusive, petty and rude ... our daughter, Jessica, had expressed a desire to speak before this committee. However, after reading the transcripts, we wouldn't consider exposing her to such a hostile environment.”

The couple will take their message directly to the Canadian public instead through their own advocacy initiatives “in an environment that encourages and supports the sharing and understanding of all opinions, even those that don’t agree with our own.  That can only contribute to the good of all Canadians.”

At least one other couple scheduled to present to the committee is considering dropping their prepared statement in favour of discussing the mockery the members are making of justice.

The committee takes their hateful exhibition on the road beginning April 1.  It’s an appropriate day to begin the next phase of this odious campaign.  A highlight of the tour, for some members of the committee, may be the town of Steinbach, Manitoba where a population of less than 10,000 is served by 21 fundamentalist churches.  The April 4 meeting will take place in a Mennonite Heritage Museum located in the riding of committee member Vic Toews (Canadian Alliance).

Under the circumstances it’s easy to understand why David Beckett wrote to the Ottawa Citizen asking, “Is this some kind of cruel joke?  If so, it is very black humour indeed.” 

Its hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

Details about Parliament's Marriage Committee Hearings


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