A controversial U.S. speaker who heads a group that advocates against what it calls "the radical homosexual agenda" and was stopped by customs officials at the Regina airport will get to speak at an anti-abortion conference in Weyburn, Sask., after all.
Peter LaBarbera, president of the group Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, said officials detained him because he planned to give a speech critical of "homosexual activism" and for a while it looked like he would be sent home on a plane.
However, things changed by the afternoon.
Officials changed their mind, LaBarbera says
LaBarbera, whose group professes on its website to stand for "God-ordained sexuality," said he had a second meeting with officials and successfully argued to be allowed to stay.
Holding his passport aloft for reporters to see, LaBarbera said officials eventually determined he was not in violation of Canada's hate laws.
Before he got the go-ahead, he had criticized the way he was treated.
"The Orwellian experience at customs dragged on for more than three hours as a formal document was issued outlining my denial of entry under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (citing the Hate Propaganda code)," LaBarbera said on his website.
He said customs officials questioned him about the purpose of his scheduled presentation at the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association conference on Saturday.
They went through his luggage, which LaBarbera said contained numerous books and literature "related to homosexuality (pro and con)."
LaBarbera claimed Canadian authorities were influenced by a group calling itself Intolerance-Free Weyburn, which did not want him to deliver his speech.
"I think it's a good precedent that, ultimately, their demands were not honoured," he said.
"I hope this bodes well for Canada and America. You should be able to have a debate on this issue."
The Canada Border Services Agency declined to comment on what had transpired, citing confidentiality reasons.
LaBarbera dubs critics 'Canadian Homo-Marxists'
LaBarbera's planned visit sparked an outcry around Saskatchewan earlier this month. Some say his anti-gay views constitute hate speech.
A protest had been planned in Weyburn for today, also organized by Intolerance-Free Weyburn.
LaBarbera responded by calling his critics "Canadian Homo-Marxists"
'We believe homosexual behaviour is immoral, but that doesn't equate with hating people.'- Peter LaBarbera, president, Americans For Truth About Homosexuality
LaBarbera said on Friday that his views should not be construed as hateful.
"We disagree with homosexual activism," he told reporters in Regina. "We believe homosexual behaviour is immoral, but that doesn't equate with hating people."
LaBarbera is also planning to be at the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon to distribute literature.
The Catholic Archbishop of Regina has also weighed in on the controversy. Rev. Daniel Bohan wrote a letter to Catholics earlier in the week talking about the upcoming Weyburn conference. In the letter, Bohan noted the current teachings of the Catholic Church and how Catholics are not to support discrimination.