Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Hans C. Clausen

First Page



Giving credence to Alexis de Tocqueville's argument that in democratic societies the love of equality is greater than the love of freedom is a recently emerging trend among Western nations to legally proscribe speech critical of homosexuality. Such laws, in various forms, now exist in a large and growing minority of countries in Europe and North America. The goal of these laws is much grander than preventing discrimination against homosexuals; rather, the objective is seemingly to promote the social acceptance of gay and lesbian lifestyles. These laws provide for civil remedies and in some instances even criminal sanctions for speech considered offensive or degrading to homosexuals, and constitutional-rights objections to them--on the basis of speech and religious liberty guarantees--have been largely unavailing. Thus, achieving the social equality of homosexuals--conceived in sweeping terms--has, in many Western countries, outstripped legal protections for speech and religious freedoms.

In this Note, the Author examines Canada's extensive legal regime proscribing speech critical of homosexuality. The Author illustrates how the Canadian judiciary's zeal for promoting the social acceptance of homosexuality has greatly diminished fundamental legal protections for open discourse and religious liberty.