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Letter on Women's Freedom of Speech

Last week on Friday, May 26, 2023, we mailed this letter to bring attention to the Statement by the UN Special Rapporteur for Violence Against Women, Reem Alsalem (released May 22, 2023). Her Statement is with respect to her concerns with women's freedom of speech. You can download that Statement here. The following individuals and groups were sent a copy of this letter:

  • The Honorable Marci Ien, Minister of Women and Gender Equality

  • The Honorable Karen Vecchio, Shadow Minister of Women and Gender Equality

  • The Honorable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

  • The Honourable Rob Moore, Shadow Minister of Justice

  • The Honorable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety

  • The Honorable Raquel Dancho, Shadow Minister of Public Safety

  • House of Commons Standing Committee on The Status of Women

  • House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights

  • Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights

We encourage as many people as possible to send the Special Rapporteur's statement to as many policymakers as possible. It is clear that there is a fearmongering campaign happening right now to limit women's right to speak freely more than what has already happened under the guise of hate speech. If you would like to a letter to your own M.P., M.P.P., or MLA you should check out our guide that includes an easy-to-customize letter, a copy of the Statement that can be downloaded, and where to find addresses.

Dear Minister Ien:  Re: Protecting Women’s Freedom of Speech and Assembly  We are writing to draw your attention to the attached copy of the recent report by the UN's Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls. The report notes deep concerns regarding the treatment of women who are expressing their opinions 4regarding our sex-based needs and rights. Specifically, the report states there is an alarming “escalation of intimidation and threats against women and girls for expressing their opinions and beliefs regarding their needs and rights based on their sex and/or sexual orientation;” the report further details the threats, attacks and vilifying tactics used to intimidate and silence women.  At Women’s Rights Canada, we are likewise concerned about the impacts on Canadian women’s rights and freedoms based on the effects of recent government laws and policies related to gender identity and gender expression, and the subsequent treatment of women who disagree. In Canada and other Western countries, women who disagree with these policies face intimidation, violence, threats, and loss of employment. Women who oppose these policies are labelled "Nazis" and "genocidaires."   In Canada, trans rights activists employ vitriolic rhetoric and intimidation tactics to stop women from expressing their views on their rights and freedoms. For example, in Toronto and Vancouver, the speakers' series arranged by Meghan Murphy, a women's rights activist, on various topics concerning women that were held in public libraries encountered protests. At these protests, women were harassed and had difficulty getting into the building because protesters physically intimidated attendees. Another time, the Vancouver Rape Relief Shelter had its windows smashed, hateful and derogatory graffiti targeting women sprayed on their building, and a dead rat nailed to their door for their view of the importance of providing single-sex services to women escaping from domestic violence or sexual assault survivors. These activists then successfully had the Shelter’s provincial and city funding stopped.  A growing number of cases of Canadian professionals like Amy Hamm and Chanel Pfahl are being brought before various professional licensing boards for expressing their concerns on the rights of children and women. These cases are not based on wrongful or illegal actions but on
Letter sent to Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality, page one

public statements of their opinions on the societal impacts of gender and gender expression. They risk losing their professional licence to practise because they voice disagreement. For example, Amy Hamm may lose her nursing licence not due to misconduct, malpractice, or patient complaints but because she supported the placement of a billboard that read “I Heart J. K. Rowling.”   Citing the definition of a "woman" ('adult human female') is being labelled hate speech by some politicians, with suggestions to report such factual language as “hate crimes” to the police. Women who suggest that women's prisons should be single-sex to protect vulnerable women and their children are labelled bigoted, far right and accused of hate. There are many more examples of women being targeted with vitriol from activists who want to “shut them down,” as said by well-known trans activist Fae Johnstone. Painting women who disagree as “hateful” is the most prolific and incendiary tactic of late, and enabling this extremism through government policies that support it must stop.  Fae Johnstone and other trans activists are lobbying Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, and yourself for harsher hate laws explicitly designed to stop women from opposing policies that support trans rights over the protection of women’s sex-based rights. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network is applying to get TV channels removed from Canada and trying to stop the entrance of a UK citizen who supports women’s rights and our right to speak.  These are the same people and organizations painting women who disagree with them as bigots and Nazis, the same people and organizations who organize protests to intimidate, harass, and bully women who try to exercise their freedom of speech and assembly, as outlined in the attached report.   The government, intentionally or not, and without regard to our Constitutional rights, systematically erases women as a sex-based class. The goal of gender-inclusive language is not kindness and inclusion. It is to erase our female-only organizations, sports, activism, political voice, freedom, and autonomy. When we pretend that the words “women” and “girls” can apply to men and females, we erase women’s right to describe ourselves and advocate for ourselves apart from male interests.  In a democracy, we must be able to express such views as women are trying to convey – even views with which others may disagree – and we must be able to do so without fear of harm.  When gender and gender expression were added to the Human Rights Act, the subsequent fallout was significant. If Canada is going to be successful, we must be able to dialogue, challenge, and resolve these issues.  We call on you to read the attached UN report and to act on your duty to protect Canadian women. We call on you to cease any process to change further hate crime legislation and policy that will further harm women, whose rights and freedoms are under attack. We implore you to speak with women's organizations, like our own, to understand the mounting concerns of all Canadian citizens, especially women.
Page 2 of letter to Marci Ien, Minister of Women and Gender Equality


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