Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission v. Whatcott, 2013 SCC 11

On Appeal from the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan

Four complaints were filed with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission concerning four flyers published and distributed by W. The complainants alleged that the flyers promoted hatred against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. The first two flyers were entitled “Keep Homosexuality out of Saskatoon’s Public Schools!” and “Sodomites in our Public Schools”. The other two flyers were identical to one another and were a reprint of a page of classified advertisements to which handwritten comments were added. A tribunal was appointed to hear the complaints. It held that the flyers constituted publications that contravened s. 14 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code because they exposed persons to hatred and ridicule on the basis of their sexual orientation, and concluded that s. 14 of the Code was a reasonable restriction on W’s rights to freedom of religion and expression guaranteed by s. 2(a) and (b) of the Charter. The Court of Queen’s Bench upheld the tribunal’s decision. The Court of Appeal accepted that the provision was constitutional but held that the flyers did not contravene it.

Held: The appeal should be allowed in part.