The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that a man, described in his own words as “dangerous” and a former drug user, broke human rights laws when he decided to hand out flyers calling gay men paedophiles and sodomites.
William Whatcott, 45, from Regina, Saskatchewan, had argued that it was within his constitutional rights to hand out the material.
The original case involves flyers that he distributed back in 2000 and 2001 which called for gay Canadians to be banned from teaching children and claimed gay men spread filth and disease.
Mr Whatcott said: “I knew what all my words meant [in the flyers], and to call them hate is specious. They were deliberately provocative.”
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission declared Mr Whatcott had violated the province’s human rights code because his flyers promoted hatred against people due to their sexual orientation.
However, in 2010 the Saskatchewan appeals court overturned the ruling.
The commission then appealed to Canada’s top Supreme Court, arguing that Mr Whatcott’s pamphlets exposed gay people to discrimination by claiming they were less than human.
Mr Whatcott is described by the National Post as “a sexual purist and Christian fundamentalist who regrets his own homosexual conduct during a youthful period of drug use and criminality”.
In an interview during the Supreme Court hearing, Mr Whatcott said he was once “a dangerous young man who prostituted himself to buy drugs”. However he found religion during a stint in prison for high-jacking a transit bus and taking two teachers hostage.
He has been arrested several times and in 2002 was seized for trying to walk across the US border to attend a gospel meeting.
On Wednesday, in a unanimous, 6-0 decision, the Supreme Court found that two of the four flyers distributed by William Whatcott in 2000 and 2001 violated Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Code.
But the court struck down some language in the provincial code, clearing Mr Whatcott of any wrongdoing in connection with two other flyers.