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Blasphemy repeal bill moves to Senate

Canada's blasphemy law is one step closer to being repealed after MPs in the House of Commons agreed to pass Bill C-51 at third reading on Monday.

The bill makes a number of amendments to the Criminal Code, including repealing the prohibition on blasphemous libel. The BC Humanist Association and other freethought and secular groups across Canada have been calling for its repeal, including 7400 Canadians who signed a Parliamentary e-petition last year.

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Government report calls for "modern, efficient and effective" Human Rights Commission

The BC Humanist Association welcomes the 25 recommendations made in a report on creating a new BC Human Rights Commission.

Parliamentary Secretary Ravi Kahlon presented his report to the Attorney General for the new Commission on December 10, Human Rights Day. The report follows online and in person consultations, including submissions from over 500 individuals and almost 70 organizations. The BC Humanist Association attended in person consultations and submitted a written response. We also collected over 1000 signatures calling for "nonreligion" to be added as a protected class in the BC Human Rights Code.

Kahlon writes:

The general consensus is that the new commission must be modern, efficient and effective. It should educate the public about human rights, promote equality, awareness and respect, and address systemic abuse. It should also complement not replace the current work of the BC Human Rights Tribunal and Human Rights Clinic. I have heard British Columbians say that B.C. should aspire to be the human rights leader by adopting innovative practices to ensure that individuals, no matter where they live, have equal access to justice and to the supports they need to turn human rights ideals into reality.

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Humanists argue against religious law school at Supreme Court of Canada

On November 30 and December 1 the Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments over whether law societies must recognize evangelical Trinity Western University’s proposed law school. The BC Humanist Association was there.

TWU's Community Covenant excludes sexual intimacy outside a heterosexual marriage. As such, the case has been framed as pitting religious freedom against LGBTQ equality or in terms of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, whether law societies must prioritize sections 2a (freedom of religion) or section 15 (equality).

In our first intervention at the Court, our lawyers, Wes McMillan and Kaitlyn Meyer from Hakemi & Ridgedale LLP, built on fellow interveners from the United Church of Canada and the Faith, Fealty & Creed Society to argue that organizations should not be able to claim religious rights under Canadian law.

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1000 for protecting nonreligious rights

The BC Humanist Association today submitted its response to the Government of BC's consultation on re-establishing the province's Human Rights Commission. As part of that brief, we pointed to the 1000 people who've signed our petition calling for "nonreligion" to be made a protected class in the Human Rights Code.

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Justice Committee supports repealing blasphemy law

On November 8, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights finished its study of a bill to amend Canada's Criminal Code. In its clause-by-clause examination, the committee unanimously agreed to maintain the repeal of section 296, Canada's blasphemy law. However, the committee decided not to repeal Section 176, which criminalizes disturbing a religious worship, and instead amended its language.

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Recognize discrimination against nonreligious

The BC Humanist Association submitted a brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage today as part of its study of Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination.

In its brief, the BCHA highlights how religious privilege continues to marginalize the nonreligious and members of minority faith communities in Canada. It explores how the nonreligious in immigrant and indigenous communities are often unseen when the identities of diverse groups of people are reduced to the majority faith of the country they came from. Finally, it provides commentary on debates over terminology that have arisen in the context of this committee.

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Secularists call for repeal of blasphemy laws at justice committee

On Monday, October 30, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights met to continue its discussions over the bill to amend the criminal code.

The BC Humanist Association submitted our brief to the committee last week. In it, we set out why we support the government's decision to repeal sections 296 and 176 which prohibit blasphemous libel and disrupting a religious service respectively.

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Repeal Canada's Blasphemy Laws - Our Justice Committee brief

The BC Humanist Association today submitted its brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights supporting the proposed repeal of sections 176 and 296 of the Criminal Code, the prohibitions on "blasphemous libel", obstructing clergy and disturbing religious worship.

MPs on the Committee are currently studying Bill C-51, which would repeal the two sections and make other amendments to the Criminal Code.

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Humanists launch petition for nonreligious human rights protections

The BC Humanist Association launched a petition today calling on the Government of BC to add "nonreligion" to the provincial Human Rights Code as a protected class.

The Government of BC is in the process of re-establishing a Human Rights Commission and is consulting on what changes should be made to BC's human rights laws.

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Religious conservatives vs SOGI education in Langley

The BC Humanist Association today wrote in support of the SOGI 123 resources being adopted by the Langley School Board.

SOGI stands for sexual orientation and gender identity and was created for BC teachers in partnership with the Ministry of Education, the BC Teachers Federation, nine school districts and Out in Schools. It aims to promote LGBTQ-inclusive education.

Religious conservatives and activists who view the curriculum materials as part of a "political cult" have been holding rallies and targeting Langley School District specifically, despite the program being in place in districts across the province and having received support from all levels of government and across the political spectrum.

A rally in support of SOGI 123 is being organized for September 26 by Langley Parents for Inclusivity.

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