This year, anti-gay Canadian activist and former gay sex worker William Whatcott registered a group with Toronto Pride called “Gay Zombies Cannabis Consumers Association”. The group members dressed up in green skin suits, wore rainbow colored tutus, masks and briefs and handed out pamphlets that said (in part):
“Disease, death and confusion are the sad and sordid realities of the homosexual lifestyle. The ‘Gay Zombies’ are concerned about the spiritual, psychological and physical welfare of all potential homosexual pride attendees, so we want to give you this accurate information and encourage you to abstain from the homosexuality. The rejection of true marriage is also in direct opposition to God’s law and it is our duty to warn you that those who choose to rebel against the God who created them, do so to their eternal peril.”
When local gay bar owner Christopher Hudspeth and former member of parliament George Smitherman heard about it, they filed a $104 million class action civil lawsuit against Whatcott seeking an injunction preventing him and his associates from participating in any future Pride events; they also want Whatcott’s financial records to understand where he receives his funding.
“Pride needs to be a safe place for everyone,” Hudspeth said at a recent press conference. “We put up with enough homophobic messaging every day. We deserve a homophobic free zone at our pride parade.”
He continued, “There is no doubt in my mind that some fundamentalist group is backing these activities. We need to smoke them out.”
Hudspeth’s lawsuit could succeed if it gains traction. Unlike the U.S., Canada has laws forbidding hate speech and in 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Whatcott’s previous pamphlets constituted hate speech; his anti-abortion pamphlets included images of dismembered fetuses and one on the dangers of Islam had a picture of a beheaded Indonesian girl.
This wasn’t Whatcott’s first time to infiltrate a Pride event. At the 2014 Vancouver Pride parade, he registered as the “Calgary Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” (a non-church normally used to parody religion) and handed out “gospel condoms” that featured picture of a wheelchair bound “dying and not very proud homosexual” covered in AIDS lesions and a message about how “those who give themselves over to homosexuality suffer grievously because of their sin.”
Whatcott has promised to appear in court to greet his audience and said that it’s unlikely that he’d respect any court order forbidding him from protesting at Prides. When he registers to march at Pride events, he uses aliases to help him avoid detection, but considers his deception as part of “God’s work.”