REGINA — The Canadian Border Services Agency has overturned a decision to deny a Christian speaker entry into the country because of his biblically-based work in opposition of homosexual behavior.
As previously reported, Peter LaBarbera, the director of the U.S.-based Christian ministry Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, spent hours responding to questions from authorities with the Canada Border Services Agency after his flight landed Thursday night in Regina, Saskatchewan. He was seeking entrance into the country as he was scheduled to speak on the link between pro-abortion and homosexual activism at the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association this weekend.
LaBarbera was told that he was being detained over a possible violation of the Criminal Code of Canada regarding the “public incitement of hatred.”
The Canadian Border Services agency was allegedly responding to a campaign initiated by the homosexual rights group Intolerance Free Weyburn, which was set to stop LaBarbera from crossing the Canadian border. According to a blog post from LaBarbera, the agency seized his passport and searched his belongings before releasing the speaker to the custody of Bill Whatcott, a prominent activist in Canada who has challenged free speech issues in the country.
“After questioning me about the purpose of my scheduled presentation at the SPLA event; rifling through my luggage, which contained numerous books and literature related to homosexuality (pro and con); examining the contents of my laptop and my cell phone; playing a DVD of my speech Wednesday at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio; and critically viewing AFTA’s website – a preliminary decision was made to deny my entrance into Canada on the basis that my speech at the SPLA would violate Canada’s ‘Hate Propaganda’ law,” he stated.
He was scheduled to reappear before the Canadian Border Service on Friday for an appeal, at which time the decision to deny entry was reversed.
“[The guards] said quite simply and immediately that the person in charge did not feel they had grounds to apply the hate propaganda law to my appearance,” LaBarbera told the Leader-Post following the hearing. “That’s gratifying, as always.”
The Christian speaker and writer says that while he finds his initial treatment by the border agency disturbing, he understands that it had been under pressure to bar his entrance, and is thankful that the decision was overturned.
“There was a concerted effort by Intolerance Free Weyburn, ironically named as they are, to specifically lobby a government agency to block speech and I think it’s a good precedent that ultimately their demands were not honored,” he told the Montreal Gazette.
LaBarbera said that free speech—in both America and Canada—should allow for a civil discussion on the matter of homosexuality without punishment by the government.
“You should be able to have a debate on this issue,” LaBarbera said. “There are hateful homosexual activists, there are hateful people on the right, but hopefully we can have a civil debate for people who can be willing to disagree without hating the other side.”