Discussion of Gay Practices Not in Breach of Code

Ottawa, August 26, 2009 - The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning comments made on Le Retour de Radio X broadcast on CHOI-FM (Quebec City) on May 15, 2008. The CBSC determined that the comments made by the hosts about homosexuality were neither abusive nor unduly discriminatory, on the one hand, nor were they unduly sexually explicit, on the other.

Le Retour de Radio X is CHOI-FM’s afternoon drive program, highlights of which are then rebroadcast between 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm. On the May 15 episode, the hosts were discussing the fact that the California Supreme Court had declared that disallowing gay marriage was unconstitutional. One host commented that there was a lot of [translation] “queerness” in San Francisco and that he did not like to see two men kissing in public, but that they could [translation] “do it up the ass all [they] want” behind closed doors. He also stated that he did not approve of gay couples adopting children because it involved someone else in their “queerness”.

The CBSC received a complaint from a listener who felt that the comments were both hateful towards homosexuals and indecent at an hour when children could be listening. The CBSC Quebec Regional Panel examined the complaint under Clause 2 (Human Rights) and Clause 9(b) (Radio Broadcasting) of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics. The Panel affirmed the host’s right to express his views on a wide range of political issues, including controversial matters such as gay marriage and adoption. With respect to the use of the word “queerness” (“fifure” in the original French), the Panel concluded that it was “discourteous, rude and on the edge of acceptability, but did not rise to the ‘sneering, derisive and nasty’ level [required to violate the Code].”

The Panel also concluded that the single reference to sexual activity was “tasteless” but “it does not consider that the hypothetical ‘instruction’ is unduly explicit. There is no graphic or realistic description of sexual activity,” and therefore it did not breach Clause 9(b) of the Code.

Canada’s private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, equitable portrayal, television violence and journalistic independence by which they expect the members of their profession will abide. In 1990, they also created the CBSC, which is the self-regulatory body with the responsibility of administering those professional broadcast Codes and the pay television Codes, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic ethics created by the RTNDA – Association of Electronic Journalists in 1970. More than 725 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty services from across Canada are members of the Council.

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All CBSC decisions, Codes, links to members’ and other web sites, and related information are available on the CBSC’s website at www.cbsc.ca. For more information, please contact the CBSC National Chair, Mme Andrée Noël CBSC Executive Director, John MacNab