PRESS RELEASE, 2023-11-28

Put an End to Religious Hate Speech!

The Criminal Code of Canada authorizes hate speech if it is motivated by religious belief. We must put an end to this aberration which allows wrongdoing under the pretext of being “open-minded”!

Do not hesitate to contact your federal Member of Parliament (MP) to let them know that you support Bill C-373, recently tabled in the House of Commons by the Bloc Québécois. Bill C-373 would repeal paragraphs 319(3)b and 319(3.1)b of the Criminal Code which authorize hate speech if it is “based on a belief in a religious text” or “an opinion on a religious subject.”

Contact your federal MP in order to put an end to this explosive religious privilege that our society categorically does not need! Write to them either by post or by email. The coordinates of all MPs are available on the House of Commons website.

2024-02-05: The Bloc Québécois re-tables its bill, now labelled C-373 and nicknamed “the Charkaoui bill.”

Atheist FreethinkersFor immediate release
Atheist Freethinkers Supports Draft Legislation to Repeal the Religious Exception for Hate Propaganda

Montreal, 2023-11-28 — Atheist Freethinkers (LPA-AFT), an association which defends the rights of atheists and promotes secularism, enthusiastically supports Bill C-367, tabled today by the Bloc Québécois, which would repeal the religious exception in Canada’s hate propaganda law. This exception, paragraph 319(3)b) of the Criminal Code, is an anachronistic aberration that should never have been adopted. It states that “No person shall be convicted” of promoting hatred “if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text.” Consequently, an individual can convey hateful propaganda with impunity if his or her remarks are based on a religious text in which he or she claims to believe.

Recall that Bill C-250, in 2003, added sexual orientation to the list of identifiable groups potentially targets of hate propaganda. But this same bill also strengthened the religious exception by adding the phrase “an opinion based on a belief in a religious text” in order to calm the religious concerns of several homophobic Members of Parliament. It is difficult to imagine a less legitimate or more cynical motive than this.

Recall as well that we, Atheist Freethinkers, initiated parliamentary petition e-763 which called for the repeal of paragraph 319(3)b). This petition obtained more than 1500 signatures and was presented to the House of Commons in March, 2018. However, the Minister of Justice at the time rejected it out of hand, citing the old version of the paragraph in order to avoid the question!

We consider the repeal of this religious exception to be particularly relevant in the present context where tensions are rising, in several institutions, between those who clearly take sides for one or the other of the two belligerents in the current Middle East conflict. Reprehensible acts have occurred with increasing frequency in Montreal and across Canada. Religions themselves are important instigators of hate propaganda. Various religious texts include passages that denigrate and advocate hatred towards non-believers, women, homosexuals or certain ethnic and racial groups, and that sometimes advocate violence, even lethal violence;

One group’s freedom of religion must never take precedence over the fundamental rights of others and must never, under any circumstances, threaten the bodily integrity or lives of members of groups targeted by hate speech in religious texts. It is also not acceptable that it be used to foment conflict and threaten social peace.

— 30 —

David Rand, bulletin at
Jean Thibaudeau, jthib at


This press release is also available as a PDF document.

4 comments on “PRESS RELEASE, 2023-11-28
  1. Josh says:

    Speaking of religious propaganda, I’m actually part of a group called the Atheist Street Pirates which removes such propaganda from public property nationwide

    Anyone who wants to report sightings of illegally placed religious propaganda is encouraged to do so through the ASP website & anyone who wants to join the effort in removing illegal religious propaganda just needs to scroll down on the website to where it says “Join a Local Crew” & click on it to be directed to an email form which you must fill out with your contact information

  2. I would promote the following:
    ‘No person shall be convicted” of promoting hatred “if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text WHICH IS NOT A PHYSICAL THREAT OR RELATED TO A PHYSICAL THREAT.’

    Everyone has right to their beliefs. Trying to define “hate speech” is like trying to define pornography. A whole lot depends on the intent and not the words/actions.

    Every one has a right to their religious beliefs even if that belief is distressing to you, the only thing that can not be tolerated is threats or acts of physical harm.

    And I cannot in good conscious say that people cannot speak their beliefs even if it is not in my favor or even if it is degrading to me. Threatening violence is a different matter.

    • David Rand says:

      What a terrible idea. I disagree 100%.

      That religious exception should be repealed completely, leaving nothing in its place. It should not be expanded, as you suggest, trying to contrive something acceptable by adding something to a phrase which is already unacceptable.

      The text which you propose to add is just another approximate definition of hate propaganda, something which is already defined in the law.

      There is NO REASON WHATSOEVER why religious beliefs should be protected any more than any other kind of belief — political, scientific, pseudo-scientific, etc. The law says, for example, that inciting “hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace” is illegal. Whether that hatred is expressed for religious reasons or non-religious reasons should be irrelevant.

    • Max Wallace says:

      Currently in Australia there are moves to ban the image of the Nazi swastika and the performance of the Nazi salute. There is general agreement that these are unacceptable politically. By way of analogy, why then should expressions of religious hatred be privileged over political ones? While it is clear that calls to violence are unacceptable with respect to free speech, it does not follow that calls to violence alone should be the defining principle to the limits of free speech.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Print This Page Print This Page