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Hateful act of vandalism unacceptable

May 12, 2020

On the morning of May 10, three buildings in Saskatoon were vandalized. Grosvenor Park United Church, McClure United Church, and St. Andrew’s College at the University of Saskatchewan were defaced with homophobic graffiti.

These were acts of hate and discrimination, fueled by ignorance and intolerance.

Every person in Saskatchewan has the right to live a life free of discrimination, exclusion, and hate. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is expressly prohibited under The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. Yet, members of the LGBTQ2S community remain stigmatized in society and subjected to harassment, discrimination, and hateful comments.

Words matter. They have power. This power demands that each of us use our words responsibly and within reasonable bounds because hate speech is a stepping stone to hate crime.

Nine years ago, the Commission went to the Supreme Court of Canada seeking protection from the most extreme and destructive forms of public expression because of the very real connection between hate speech and hate crime. The court’s response was unequivocal, unambiguous, and unassailable: every human being deserves equal moral consideration. Hate must not be condoned.

As the recent acts of vandalism demonstrate, there is still much work to be done. Each of us has a responsibility to uphold the rights of others. Targeted groups must not be left to shoulder this burden alone. As citizens, and members of one human family, it is incumbent upon us to stand up, speak out, and take action against hate in all its forms.

David M. Arnot, Chief Commissioner
Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission