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An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), popularly known as Bill C-250, its title during the second session of the 37th Canadian parliament in which it was passed, was a controversial piece of Canadian legislation passed by the House of Commons on September 17, 2003. The act added penalties to the Criminal Code of Canada for inciting the hatred of or encouraging the genocide of people on the basis of sexual orientation. Prior to this amendment, the section protected only the following: race, religion, ethnic origin, and colour, gender and disability.

As with all Canadian legislation, this act has equal force in French in which it is called La Loi modifiant le Code criminel (propagande haineuse).

Criminal Code text

The Criminal Code, as amended, now includes the following provisions:

318. (1) Every one who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

(2) In this section, "genocide" means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part any identifiable group, namely,

(a) killing members of the group; or
(b) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction...

(4) In this section, "identifiable group" means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

319. (1) Every one who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

(2) Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under subsection (2)

(a) if he establishes that the statements communicated were true;
(b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;
(c) if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true; or
(d) if, in good faith, he intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters producing or tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada...

(7) In this section,

  • "communicating" includes communicating by telephone, broadcasting or other audible or visible means;
  • "identifiable group" has the same meaning as in section 318;
  • "public place" includes any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, express or implied;
  • "statements" includes words spoken or written or recorded electronically or electro-magnetically or otherwise, and gestures, signs or other visible representations.

Imposing religion

See also Status of religious freedom in Canada

Bill C-250, authored by New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Svend Robinson, had come under fire from Focus on the Family and some other religious groups based on the argument that it prohibits the preaching of various Scripture condemning homosexuality. Supporters of the bill reject this argument due to provisions that they say protect religious groups from prosecution if religious believers criticise homosexual behaviour in a way that does not promote hatred.

External links