Updated August 14

The editor of the Newfoundland Herald has apologized publicly for publishing a letter to the editor critical of homosexuality, gay marriage and abortion, and a human rights complaint that was filed against the newspaper has been withdrawn, CBC News and others reported.

By Grant Buckler

Updated August 14

The Newfoundland Herald has apologized for publishing a letter to the editor critical of homosexuality, gay marriage and abortion, and a human rights complaint that was filed against the newspaper has been withdrawn, CBC News and others reported.

The letter appears in the August 3-9 issue of the St. John’s-based weekly. It is not available on the Herald’s website except by purchasing a copy of the print issue, but the material previously appeared on Barbwire, a blog published by its American author, Matt Barber. Barber argues that “the secular left” is making war on Christianity by forcing Christians to obey laws that forbid discrimination against gays and provide access to abortions. He forecasts and encourages civil disobedience against such laws. 

The Herald published two letters to the editor objecting to the Barber piece, and in the latest issue Pam Pardy-Ghent, the newspaper's managing editor, apologized for the offence it caused. "Many beautiful, wise, wonderful and caring people were hurt and angered by Barber's letter, and the fact that it was published in the Herald. And for that, I'm truly sorry," she said. She also said the letter posed a journalistic dilemma about where to draw the line between free speech and censorship.

CBC News reported earlier that Western Pride NL, a gay rights organization in Newfoundland and Labrador, filed a human rights complaint against the Herald for publishing the letter. 

Kyle Curlew, a member of Western Pride NL who CBC said initiated the complaint, also wrote a letter to the Telegram, a St. John’s daily newspaper, arguing the article “will cause harm to LGBTQ folk across the province” and urging readers to write letters of protest to the Herald. He also questioned the legitimacy of the piece as a letter to the editor, pointing out that it had previously been published as a post on a U.S.-based blog.

Geoff Meeker, a former editor of the Herald, wrote in a Telegram blog that the letter was “as mean and intolerant as Christianity can be,” but questions whether it promotes hatred towards an identifiable group clearly enough that the human rights complaint is likely to succeed.


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Grant Buckler is a retired freelance journalist and a volunteer with Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and lives in Kingston, Ont.