TORONTO—Canada’s largest Jewish organizations have supported the inclusion of sexual orientation in the federal government’s hate crimes bill.
In a letter to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, which is currently holding hearings on Bill C-41, Lyle Smordin, national chair of B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights, said “it is essential that sexual orientation be included with other grounds for hate crimes.”
“This issue has nothing to do with same-sex benefits or pedophilia,” Smordin wrote. The league “has consistently argued that it is a matter of protection for those who have long been the targets of hate.”
Canadian Jewish Congress said last week it too supports including sexual orientation as a basis for a hate crime.
Congress “recognizes that people have been singled out as victims of crimes of hatred. The bill has nothing to do with extending rights to anybody. It has to do with protecting people under the law,” said CJC spokesman Steven Shulman.
Bill C-41 would allow courts to impose greater sentences for crimes motivated by hatred towards groups identifiable by their religion, race, color, disability, nationality, age, sex or sexual orientation.
But several members of the Liberal caucus have opposed the section on sexual orientation, pitting them squarely against Justice Minister Allan Rock.
Some Liberals say they want sexual orientation clearly defined. Others want all references to gays and lesbians deleted.
Reportedly, as many as 20 Liberals would vote against the bill if it goes unchanged.
Rock has said he will not amend the bill’s section on sexual orientation.
Both B’nai Brith and Congress expect to appear before the committee or file briefs outlining their positions.
Johnny Abush (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jewish Lesbian & Gay Archives
50 Alexander Street #1407
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4Y 1B6