A Christian activist was handed a huge fine by a Canadian human rights "tribunal" for "injury" to a transgender woman's "dignity, feelings, and self-respect" — but the activist said he has no intention of curtailing his opinions and won't pay, either, CityNews reported.
What's the background?
The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled March 27 that Bill Whatcott discriminated against transgender advocate Morgane Oger — who was running for public office in 2017 — by creating a flyer that called Oger a "biological male" and said transgenderism is harmful and then distributing the flyer in the Vancouver area.
Transgenders have been protected by B.C. human rights law since 2016 and by Canadian human rights law since 2017, the Star reported.
Oger filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, alleging Whatcott's flyer violated the Human Rights Code — which the ruling stated prohibits "hate speech" as well as publication of any statement that "indicates discrimination or an intention to discriminate" or "is likely to expose a person or group or class of persons to hatred or contempt."
The tribunal's ruling said Whatcott's flyer "seeks to exclude a group of already marginalized persons from political life" and that his "speech does not enrich Canada's democracy — it undermines it." The ruling added that "the expression contained in the Flyer is intended to denigrate and humiliate Ms. Oger based on her gender identity."
In the end, the tribunal ordered Whatcott to pay Oger $35,000 "for injury to her dignity, feelings and self-respect" and an additional $20,000 for "improper conduct." He was also ordered to cease his activities that led to the complaint.
What did the defendant have to say?
Whatcott told CityNews he won't pay Oger and can't afford it: "It wouldn't even make sense to want to pay it," he told the outlet before ripping the tribunal's ruling. "And I think that's a horrible decision."
He added to the Star that he's "not going to shut up" and that he plans on continuing to distribute flyers about Oger.
"I'm a pretty tough guy, and if they take something from me or throw me in jail, I'll live through it," Whatcott added to CityNews.
Here's a 2018 clip of Whatcott and his supporters protesting outside a Calgary police station — and Whatcott getting taken into custody, according to the video's description:
What did the plaintiff have to say?
Oger told CityNews that "if Mr. Whatcott decides to die on that hill and go to jail over his convictions, I can't help him. That's his decision."
If Whatcott violates his court orders, human rights lawyer Richard B. Johnson told CityNews "that can be something that the court can take action on, if called upon by the party that feels it's been injured by that" and also award additional damages.
Oger added to CityNews that she hopes Whatcott will be faced with "real material consequences for his actions as a deterrent for others. Either paying his fine, having to scramble to pay it, or being in debt for the rest of his life, or going to prison for a while to consider his action — whatever the courts decide to do — is the appropriate thing for him to face."
Here's a clip of Oger following last week's tribunal ruling:
As it turns out, Whatcott went back distributing flyers over the weekend — and he posted a YouTube video Saturday of a police officer confronting him: