720 Bay Street, 11th Floor
Toronto, ON, M7A 2S9
4 July 2011
Dear Minister Bentley,
This past weekend, the Toronto Metro Convention Centre hosted Journey of Faith, an annual Islamic conference comprised of approximately 9,000 participants. Bilal Philips, a Jamaican-Canadian imam, was one of the speakers at this conference. The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star have since reported that, during his lecture, Philips reiterated his views that “homosexuals should be executed if they are caught in the act.”
Clearly, such language is extremely disturbing and may indeed contravene Canadian hate propaganda prohibitions. In fact, on April 20th of this year, Philips was expelled from Germany for a period of one year after making similar hateful comments against the LGBT community at an assembly of 2,000 people in Frankfurter Innenstadt.
I ask that you take immediate action to determine if the comments made by Philips in Toronto this weekend contravened the Criminal Code. If so, I trust that you will promptly initiate appropriate redress and implement measures to ensure that he does not continue to promote hatred and genocide against the LGBT community in Ontario.
As you are aware, police-reported hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation in Canada have been steadily increasing over the past few years and are disproportionately violent in nature. In addition, homophobic and transphobic bullying is rampant in Canada schools, and we continue to see disturbingly high suicide rates among LGBT youth. As such, it is crucial that the promotion and legitimizing of hatred against the LGBT community not be permitted to continue.
I appreciate your swift attention to this matter and look forward to your response.
Helen Kennedy, Executive Director