Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Québec launches first-ever homophobic acts registry

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Registre | anonyme et confidentiel [Register | anonymous and confidential]
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Québec reached a new milestone yesterday in its quest to become even more of a liberal utopia than the rest of Canada as LGBT helpline Gai Écoute (“gay listen”) teamed up with the provincial justice department to launch a “world-first” government-funded registry of homophobic acts:

In what may be a world-first, Gai Écoute’s anonymous and confidential Registre des actes homophobes [Register of homophobic acts] will document complaints ranging from name-calling in schools to psychological harassment at work and physical assaults against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.

The registry will not be used as a tool for a new homophobia police, McCutcheon said.

“We will refer people (who fill out the registry’s forms) to existing resources, like youth protection officials, the human rights commission and the police,” he said. “We do not plan to intervene directly.”

Based on the number and type of calls Gai Écoute gets, McCutcheon said he expects there might be hundreds of complaint-worthy cases for the registry. “We notice it especially in calls from outside of Montreal, in smaller communities. Sometimes it’s a student who got mocked at school or a teenager with parents threatening to throw the young person out.”

In two years, the group will analyze the registry data and make recommendations to help stem homophobic acts. The registry is being funded with $60,000 from the Quebec Justice Department, which has set aside $7.1 million to battle homophobia over five years.

Montreal police Commander Alain Gagnon of Station 22, which includes the Gay Village, said the registry will be useful for victims or witnesses of homophobia who want to alert someone but want to remain anonymous.

“Not all hurtful things that are said are illegal,” Gagnon said. “Some things may just be part of a person’s freedom of speech. But this registry will help (police) understand what is going on province-wide.”

Suspected crimes will be investigated, he added.

As brilliant as this initiative sounds, I must admit I have some doubts about how effective the registry may reveal itself to be, given the obvious potential for flooding it with all kinds of anonymous fluff. If people start reporting every incident they witness of someone saying or being called a “fif” or “tapette” (French equivalents to “fag” and a beloved insult around here), it’s no stretch to imagine the system would quickly become bogged down to the point of uselessness. But as always, one should see it in action before judging, and at any rate, this is just such a blatant case of the right thing to do that it may well be worth the effort anyway, even if some may inevitably abuse it.

Georges Buscemi (President, Quebec Life Coalition)
Georges Buscemi

Meanwhile, of course, local homophobes are throwing another fit:

Georges Buscemi President of the Montreal-based pro-life and pro-family group Campagne Quebec Vie told LifeSiteNews he saw the registry as a “means to instill a climate of oppression and fear to anyone who disagrees with any of the opinions of the homosexualist movement in Quebec.”

“Anyone who might believe that a homosexual act is unacceptable at a moral level” is being sent a warning “that they will end up on a list,” he said. “A list to be used for a future purpose which in my opinion is to punish.”

Buscemi gave examples of possible reprisals being the loss of charitable status for churches or teaching positions for professors. “It’s the beginning of a soft persecution,” he said. “It is really about inciting a climate of fear using the media, especially with the presence of the police. Any criticism will be interpreted as homophobia and eventually down the road there will be consequences.”

Feeling targeted by the new program, are we? Of course, Buscemi needn’t worry about anyone being “persecuted” just for believing whatever they want about LGBT people or their sexuality, as bigoted and regressive as it may be, and free speech protections have always covered open criticism of anyone for any reason, as they should. This registry won’t change any of that, nor could it. What could be curbed is intolerant acts – which, of course, haters are always quick to conflate with their “beliefs”, hence all the fear-mongering about the boogeyman of persecution at the hand of Big Gay (Al?).

As a sidenote, it’s both interesting and reassuring that every time I hear about these regional religious-conservative groups kvetching about something or other, it’s always the first (and usually the last) time I’m even made aware of their existence. As I’ve said, Canada and even Québec do have their fair share of regressives; the difference is that people here just don’t give a damn what they say or think about anything.

(via Joe. My. God.)