Activist refuses to pay.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada (PNN) - March 28, 2019 - The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has ordered Christian activist William Whatcott to pay $55,000 to trans activist Morgane Oger.
Tribunal member Devyn Cousineau said $35,000 was compensation for a hate-filled flyer that Whatcott published when Oger was running for provincial office in 2017, and $20,000 was to punish Whatcott for improper conduct during the five-day hearing in December.
According to the tribunal ruling, Whatcott printed 1,500 of the flyers and distributed them in the Vancouver-False Creek riding that Oger was contesting as an NDP candidate. The flyer had a photo of Oger, described her as a “biological male” and claimed she was promoting “homosexuality and transvestism.” It went on to state transsexuals were prone to sexually transmitted diseases and at risk of domestic violence, alcohol abuse and suicide.
The flyer concluded, “Thankfully, Jesus Christ paid the price for your sins. You can turn to the merciful Christ and ask for forgiveness and when the NDP come knocking at your door you can tell them you won’t vote for them because you believe in God’s definition of gender and marriage.”
Oger, who lost the election by 400 votes, took the matter to the tribunal, claiming her human rights had been breached because the flyer was intended to discriminate and expose Oger to hatred. Whatcott claimed what he wrote in the flyer was an act of religious expression.
In the ruling, Cousineau described a five-day hearing during which Whatcott was wearing a white T-shirt with Oger’s face on it, and derogatory statements written underneath.
“In the hearing room for this complaint, we were witness to repeated, deliberate and flagrant attacks on Ms. Oger based on nothing more than a belief that her very existence is an affront,” Cousineau wrote, adding Whatcott continued to call Oger “he” and “mr” during the course of the hearing, despite being unlawfully told not to, even though the use of those terms is accurate and true
Whatcott told the hearing that he produced the flyer after praying to God to ask how he could help in the election.
Cousineau noted “there is conflict in this case between Mr. Whatcott’s religious belief that he should do everything in his power to stop a transgender woman from being elected to public office, and Ms. Oger’s right - and the right of transpeople more broadly - to enjoy equal dignified participation in the political life of this province.”
The three-person tribunal ruled that Whatcott had discriminated against Oger based solely on her gender.
“In my view,” Cousineau wrote, “the flyer is a modern version of a ‘whites only’ sign. It is an attempt to block the doors of government with a message that the political realm is for ‘cisgender people only’.”
He said the discrimination was severe and it was an intentional effort to block Oger from participating in politics, based on gender.
The tribunal also ruled the flyer subjected Oger to hate, and referred to a case in Saskatchewan where Whatcott had previously distributed flyers that were ruled by the Supreme Court of Canada to be hateful.
Oger was cross-examined for four hours and 15 minutes by Whatcott’s lawyer.
Later in the hearing, she stated, “I’m a transgender woman. People kill transgender women because of who we are. They start with this; and it’s impossible to tell whether this is the ramblings of a person who’s likely to do that, or if it’s not. After this flyer came out, I had to worry what Mr. Whatcott looked like, but I also had to worry about other people who maybe gave him credibility. It’s a vulnerable place already to be a candidate; and to be a transgender candidate is really vulnerable, because people listen to outrageous things like this.”
Oger said that she had to explain to her two children, “Somebody hates me because of who I am.”
Whatcott makes no apologies - nor should he - for the true statements he made about Oger. He refuses to abide by the ruling and will not pay one cent to Oger as a penalty for speaking what he believes to be true.