Anti-gay pamphleteer launches libel suit against CBC

Anti-gay pamphlet distributor Bill Whatcott is suing the CBC for libel.



OTTAWA - An anti-gay pamphleteer who took hate speech accusations all the way to Canada's top court is suing the CBC for libel.

Bill Whatcott filed the civil suit June 22 against the broadcaster for an October news story about the Supreme Court hearings into his fight with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Whatcott's legal team claims the CBC misrepresented him when they panned to one of his pamphlets declaring "Kill the Homosexual" during the story - words Whatcott maintains were a spoof of a 2008 Alberta Human Rights Commission ruling tossing out a complaint about a death metal song urging listeners to "Kill the Christian."

Tom Schuck, Whatcott's lawyer, said the broadcaster should have used one the pamphlets at issue in the current Supreme Court case.

"But they dredged up this old pamphlet and then misconstrued it for the general public," he said.

In doing so, Schuck argues "they allege that Bill advocates killing homosexual people - that would be hate speech under the criminal code."

According to the legal document, the CBC also refused to issue a retraction of the story when asked to last November.

A spokesman for the CBC said its legal department had only received the statement of claim Tuesday and are "looking into the situation."

Despite hearing from more than 20 interveners last fall, Canada's top judges haven't yet ruled whether Whatcott was promoting hatred in three pamphlets he handed out in Regina and Saskatoon in 2001 and 2002, as the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission argues.

Those pamphlets used graphic language and Biblical scripture to brand gay sex as a "perversion" and an "abomination."

Whatcott - who settled a similar libel suit against the University of Regina in 2006 - happily concedes he has no love for the CBC, calling them "a state-sponsored broadcaster" that's lost the trust of most social conservatives.

He also readily admits his pamphlets are geared to shock and that the one used by the CBC in the October TV story reflects the tone of the rest of his work.

"It's a nasty flyer as my flyers are - but it definitely is not a call to murder," he said.

But he wanted it clear that while he believes homosexual people should "renounce their sins," he has never had any intention of inciting violence.

"We felt this one is the battle to pick," he said.

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