An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda)
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An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), popularly known as Bill C-250, its title during the second and third sessions of the 37th Canadian parliament, was a Canadian Private Member's Bill that amended the Criminal Code to add penalties for publicly inciting hatred against or encouraging the genocide of people on the basis of sexual orientation and added a defence for the expression of good-faith opinions based on religious texts.
Prior to this amendment, the Criminal Code prohibited the promotion of genocide and the public incitement of hatred against groups identifiable by colour, race, religion, and ethnic origin; C-250 expanded coverage of these existing provisions to include groups identifiable on the basis of sexual orientation. The bill also expanded one of the defences available to persons charged with the incitement of hatred, allowing for the expression of good-faith opinions based on religious texts, in addition to the preexisting defence allowing the good-faith expression of opinions on religious subjects.
C-250 was first introduced in 2001 into the 37th Parliament, 1st Session as Bill C-415 by New Democratic MP Svend Robinson. Following the end of that session, the bill was reintroduced as C-250 in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. It passed the House of Commons on September 17, 2003, but was not passed by the Senate before the end of the session. The bill was again reintroduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, passing both the House and Senate. Royal Assent was granted on April 29, 2004.
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).
Religious freedom concerns
Critics of the bill claimed that it would prohibit reciting various scripture condemning homosexuality, while supporters pointed out that the bill added an explicit defence against any charge of incitement of hatred for opinions expressed in good faith based on religious texts. Critics of the law however, have expressed concern the courts will abrogate the religious loophole because "good faith" is not clearly defined.