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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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BCHA submits arguments to the Supreme Court of Canada in TWU law school case

The BC Humanist Association filed our arguments at the Supreme Court of Canada today in two cases over the proposed law school at Trinity Western University.

In our factum, we argue that only individuals, and not organizations, should be able to claim to have religious rights. Canadian courts have repeatedly refused to recognize an organization's religious rights and to do so could open a Pandora's Box of unintended consequences. In the USA, rulings such as Citizen's United and Hobby Lobby have resulted in a dramatic expansion of the power of corporations over individual citizens.

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BCHA petitions Minister of Health: Legalize Humanist Marriage

The BC Humanist Association launched a petition today calling on the Minister of Health to legalize Humanist marriage in British Columbia.

The Vital Statistics Agency, which is responsible for registering organizations that can solemnize marriages in the province, rejected the Association's request in 2013. However, a freedom of information request showed that Wiccans, Zen Buddhists and even Scientologists have been registered by the Agency.

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Chief Justice reverses decision, BCHA to intervene at Supreme Court of Canada

UPDATE (July 31, 2017):  Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin has just released an order reversing Justice Wagner's initial decision and approved all group's applications to intervene at the Supreme Court of Canada in the Trinity Western University cases. She also extended the hearing to two days to accommodate the numerous groups.

This means that the BC Humanist Association will be in Ottawa in November to argue for limits to what religious rights an organization can claim.

Donate now to support our intervention


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Fundamentalist Mormons found guilty of polygamy

Winston Blackmore and James Oler were found guilty yesterday of polygamy. The two are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Bountiful BC and have over thirty wives between them.

Blackmore has welcomed the verdict, arguing it opens the opportunity for him to challenge the constitutionality of the law. 

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Canadian Government tables bill to repeal blasphemy law

Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould today introduced a bill to repeal Canada's blasphemy law. The bill would also remove other outdated and unconstitutional provisions of the Criminal Code, strengthen protections for victims of sexual assault and require new government bills to include a Charter Statement explaining its impact on Canadian's rights.

Section 296 of the Criminal Code states that anyone who publishes a "blasphemous libel" could face up to two years imprisonment. In 2016, nearly 7500 Canadians signed an e-petition calling on the government to repeal the law. In her response, the Minister promised to address the provision as part of the Liberal's election commitment to reform the justice system.

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