Evangelicals Testify Against Hate Crime Laws at UN Briefing

“There is a chill on freedom of expression in Canada in relation to sexual orientation.”

Janet Epp Buckingham, a director of law and public policy for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, told international delegates to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights at a briefing on freedom of expression last week.

“Every country must ensure that its laws conform to international standards on fundamental freedoms like freedom of religion and freedom of expression. And Canada is no exception,” said Buckingham during the April 7th session of the six-weeklong meeting in Geneva.

In recent years, several countries in Europe and North America passed hate-crime laws that applied to sexual orientation, raising concern among evangelicals who fear such laws would place a clamp on religious expression.

In a highly-publicized event last year, a Swedish pastor was arrested for preaching a sermon on sexuality that offended gays and lesbians. While the criminal charges against the pastor, Ake Green, were dropped by a local court earlier this year, he is still facing the charges on appeal.

“When countries like Canada and Sweden start restricting free speech for religious leaders because it is politically incorrect, it legitimizes countries like China where 4000 pastors are in jail because they preach the gospel,” explained Buckingham. “It is one thing to criminalize hate speech that advocates violence against individuals or groups, but it is quite another when the same laws are applied to restrict speech of religious leaders just because someone is offended.” .

According to the EFC press, Green also addressed the delegates on the same issue.

The UN Commission on Human Rights is slated to last through April 22. Several Christian groups are scheduled to address the delegates throughout the weeks.