Authorities at a university in Regina, Saskatchewan, arrested U.S. pro-family spokesman Peter LaBarbera, founder of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, as he and a Canadian pro-family colleague were handing out literature about abortion and homosexuality April 14. Regina's CTV News reported that after the arrest LaBarbera opted to leave the country.
LaBarbera was on the campus of the University of Regina with Canadian pro-family leader Bill Whatcott, where the two stood with a poster graphically depicting the violence of abortion, along with another poster declaring that homosexual conduct is a sin. As shown in a YouTube video of the incident, university police approached the two men and ordered them to leave, to which Whatcott replied that he had previously won two Canadian court cases affirming his right to free speech. “I do believe I have a charter right to speak here,” he told the officers.
Telling the security officers that they would have to remove him from the campus, Whatcott said that “I have a moral responsibility to share the gospel with these students,” adding that “I believe this university would not be as rich as it could be if it did not allow me to stay here and speak.”
As Whatcott was hauled off in handcuffs he told the crowd cheering at his arrest, “Students, this is wrong. Even those of you who might disagree with me, we are all less free because of this. Everybody loses. There are not any winners. Shame on this university for suppressing speech.”
LaBarbera, who stood by during the peaceful confrontation but was not involved, was also detained by campus police. The U.S. pro-family spokesman can be heard on the YouTube video saying, “I would rather stay in solidarity with [Whatcott],” before being bruskly cuffed and arrested by an officer.
After the arrests, a university spokesman made a statement insisting that “we are a diverse campus. We are a welcoming campus. We celebrate that diversity, [but] our staff felt that the material and some of the things they had with them simply contravened that policy and we asked them to leave.”
Following the incident, LaBarbera told Canadian reporters, “I’m a Christian — I can’t hate people.” As for his opposition to homosexuality, he told reporters that “we all struggle with sin,” but homosexuality “just doesn’t happen to be my sin. But the idea that you can’t have an open debate on homosexuality on a college campus and that some speech code is brought in to kick people off because they have a viewpoint that most students probably haven’t heard, seems to me to be pretty undemocratic.”
As reported previously by The New American, on April 10 LaBarbera was detained at the Regina International Airport as he arrived in Canada to address the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association. A group calling itself the “Intolerance Free Weyburn” had alerted Canadian border authorities to LaBarbera's arrival, warning them that his opinions on homosexuality might violate Canada's laws against supposed hate speech.
After being detained at the airport for several hours, during which time his belongings were thoroughly searched and he was questioned about his views on homosexuality, LaBarbera was allowed into Canada to deliver his speech to the pro-life group. He called the entire affair “Orwellian.”
Image: screen grab from YouTube video showing Peter LaBarbera being arrested