Ottawa, Canada, Apr 6, 2004 / 22:00 pm
A controversial bill, which Catholic bishops fear could be used to silence Church teaching, was not voted on by the Canadian Senate before it adjourned for a one-week break, April 2.
Bill C-250 would add “sexual orientation” to the list of groups protected by the hate propaganda provisions of the Criminal Code. Currently, the only identifiable groups are those distinguished by color, race, religion or ethnic origin.
“Participation in the current public debate on [same-sex] marriage has demonstrated that there are individuals who believe that Catholic Church teaching on homosexual behavior is hatred,” said the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) in a letter to senators March 25. “We remain concerned that this bill, as presently drafted, could be used in an attempt to silence Church teaching in this regard.”
If a federal election were called after Easter, before the Senate could vote on the bill, the bill would die. However, if the bill clears the Senate before a federal election is called, all that is required for it to become law is the formality of royal assent, given by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.