Father who received’t cease discussing opposition to little one’s gender transition taken into custody pending court docket resolution
A BC father who loudly criticized his transgender child’s decision to undergo hormone treatment was handcuffed Tuesday and held in custody at least until the end of the week after being judged by a judge for “persistent and consistent” violations of the Court had been reprimanded. ordered publication bans restricting what he can say about the case.
It’s the latest chapter in a case that has turned from a family law dispute into a quasi-criminal one, touching on children’s rights, parental rights, freedom of expression and more.
The father had previously gone to court trying to prevent his teenage child – who was classified as female at birth but identified as male and supported by his mother – from receiving testosterone hormone therapy in 2018.
In January 2020, the British Columbia Court of Appeals reiterated the right of young people to make their own health choices in a ruling hailed as a victory for the trans youth and described the father’s refusal to accept his child’s gender identity as “problematic “.
“The evidence shows that his denial of identity (the child) caused (the child) significant pain,” read the ruling. “(The child) clearly wants and needs acceptance and support from his father.”
The decision also included an order that the father “recognize and designate the child as male and use masculine pronouns” and “identify the child by the name he has chosen”.
Provincial Crown Prosecutors allege that instead of accepting the decision, the father repeatedly appeared on various online platforms and posted and published information about the case, in violation of court orders prohibiting him to use names of parties in identify the case and details of his child’s medical status.
In July last year, the Crown Attorney filed a motion with the British Columbia Supreme Court to determine that the father had committed criminal contempt of court – a crime that can result in a five-year prison sentence.
A trial is scheduled for next month.
However, earlier this month the Crown Attorney took the additional step of obtaining an arrest warrant against the father and arranged for the hearing on Tuesday before Judge Michael Tammen.
The Crown Attorney Daniel Pruim outlined what he described as “flagrant” and persistent violations by the father. He visited a fundraising website set up by the father that identifies the father by his full name. It contains a video clip showing his face and declaring that he is “fighting the far left based on a civil disobedience defense. ”
Even after an arrest warrant has been issued against him, the website remains active, Pruim told the judge.
“He kept going (the violations) despite the conditions and the increasing threat to his freedom,” said Pruim.
The court-ordered publication bans were designed to protect the child, who has at times indicated that they are suicidal, the prosecutor said.
“(The father) doesn’t care,” said Pruim. “He thinks his position is more important. … This is not someone who accidentally does this. This is someone who is constantly and intentionally breaking court orders. “
Unless a plan can be worked out to ensure the father complies with court orders, the father should remain in custody pending contempt for trial next month, Pruim said.
Defense attorney Carey Linde argued that there was “no evidence” that public comment by the father was harmful and that many people in the community already knew the facts of the case, including the child’s classmates and neighbors.
“What’s the big secret?” Asked Linde. “The genie is out of the bottle.”
Linde asked the court to suspend the warrant pending contempt for trial next month and to release the father without bail.
He also signaled his intention to seek the lifting of all publication bans imposed by the court, with the exception of those prohibiting identification of family members’ names.
Judge Tammen asked why an application for the revocation of the orders had not been made earlier.
The judge seemed increasingly frustrated with Linde and asked Linde if he had any ideas for new conditions that could be placed on the father to give the court confidence that he would comply with the orders until his trial next month.
“I realize that he has not yet been prepared to do very much to comply with court orders. What conditions can I impose affecting it to ensure compliance? “
Linde did not provide any information.
“This court absolutely values the freedom of speech and the ability of citizens to debate – even a robust, awkward debate. … That’s not what this is about, ”said the judge.
“This is essentially about the psychological well-being (of the child).”
Tammen said he would make a decision on Friday. Until then, he ordered the father to be taken into custody and brought ridicule from some of the father’s supporters to the gallery.
With files from Wanyee Li