Anti-gay letter prompts human rights complaint against Newfoundland Herald
Members of a Newfoundland and Labrador Pride group were so outraged about a two-page anti-gay letter to the editor published by an entertainment magazine in the province, they filed a human rights complaint.
In its Aug. 3-9 issue, The Newfoundland Herald published 'The Coming Christian Revolt' in its Letters to the Editor section.
'There is still a lot to do. We still face discrimination every day. In The Newfoundland Herald no less.' - Chelsea Noel
The letter is a blog post from author and right-wing American blogger Matt Barber, who published the piece on his own website, barbwire.com, last month.
In the letter, Barber took direct aim at a number of topics, including abortion and gay marriage.
Western Pride NL member Kyle Curlew, who initiated filing the complaint, said his "jaw dropped" when he first saw the two-page letter.
"I couldn't even believe that it was published in the Herald. It was a rallying call for people to stand against LGBT rights. Essentially, hate propaganda," Curlew told CBC.
"We filed a human rights complaint under C-46, Section 19, which is 'propaganda and the incitement of hate towards an identifiable group.' So we are hoping to press charges."
'This is obviously something, and rightfully so, that has infuriated a number of people, and has inspired them to reach out to us.' - Pam Pardy-Ghent, The Newfoundland Herald
Curlew said he feels the long-time publication stepped a little too far outside its role in local media.
"Letters to the Editor in a Newfoundland and Labrador magazine should, for one, include letters from our community here on this island. Not someone who is completely removed from our politics in the [United] States. The other thing, The Newfoundland Herald is a television guide, not a political magazine or a religious magazine. I don't think that kind of discourse belongs in a television guide."
Taking a stand
Chelsea Noel, president of the Grenfell Campus Student Union and a member of Western Pride NL, said the letter was upsetting and people need to take a stand.
"There is a lot of anger when you first pick up something like this. Especially for me, towards The Newfoundland Herald. What compelled them to post this type of material? This hate propaganda? It was really shocking. It was really alarming," Noel said.
Noel said the magazine showed insightful hate towards the LGBT community.
'It was a rallying call for people to stand against LGBT rights. Essentially, hate propaganda.' - Kyle Curlew
"There is still a lot to do. We still face discrimination every day. In The Newfoundland Herald no less," said Noel.
Late Thursday afternoon, Herald Managing Editor Pam Pardy-Ghent responded to CBC's request for a comment.
"We have received so much feedback on this letter, more than we have ever received before on any matter or topic. This is obviously something, and rightfully so, that has infuriated a number of people, and has inspired them to reach out to us.
We will be responding to this issue – and running many of the responses we have received – in the next, and in future editions of The Newfoundland Herald. While free speech is very important to us, being responsive and responsible to the people of this province is as well."