British Columbia

Stop anti-gay group from entering Canada: Vancouver NDP MP

Vancouver East MP Libby Davies is calling Canada's public safety minister to stop a notorious American anti-gay group from entering the country.

Canada's public safety minister needs to stop a notorious American anti-gay group from entering the country, according to Vancouver East MP Libby Davies of the NDP.

The Westboro Baptist Church is planning to come to Vancouver next week to protest the performance of the Laramie Project at Havana Theatre on Commercial Drive.

The play is about the death of Matthew Shepard, a young man who was beaten to death in Wyoming in 1998 for being gay.

Davies wants Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan to make sure border officials block the group, because she says their anti-gay message breaks Canadian law.

"In Canada, it's against the law to incite hatred against gays and lesbians or any other identifiable group," Davies told CBC Radio on Wednesday morning.

"That is what this issue is about, and that's what we're going to stay focused on. We expected the Canada Border services to carry out that job in terms of upholding Canadian law and protecting the rights of Canadians."

Previously blocked at border

The Westboro Church members gained notoriety in 1998 when they were featured on CNN for picketing Shepard's funeral.

In the United States the group is known for travelling widely to picket gay pride parades and the funerals of soldiers killed in the war in Iraq.

In August, they made headlines in Canada for planning to protest the funeral of Tim McLean, who was beheaded on a Greyhound bus on July 30, claiming his slaying was God's response to Canadian policies enabling abortion, homosexuality and divorce and remarriage.

Some members of the group did manage to slip in to Canada in August, despite orders by then public safety minister Stockwell Day not to allow them to cross the border. But the planned protest never happened.

The church members are planning their protest in Vancouver for Friday, Nov. 28. A corresponding anti-hate rally is planned for the same day at 5 p.m. in front of the Havana Theatre.