SMALL PROTEST GREETS MARGARET SOMERVILLE

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By Jame McLeod

Around 30 people fought off the rain last Friday to protest the controversial ethicist as she delivered a speech at U of T for a CBC radio series.

Margaret Somerville delivered her final speech at the 2006 Massey Lecture Series last Friday at the University of Toronto while protesters outside condemned her as a homophobe.

A group of about 30 activists from Ryerson, the University of Toronto and York University handed out literature detailing what they believe to be Somerville’s homophobic statements.

“She doesn’t believe (homosexuals) have a right to raise children in this world,” said Ryerson Students’ Union employee Denise Hammond.

“(We will) send a message today that homophobic speech should not be tolerated,” she added.

Somerville is the founding director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics, and Law at McGill University.

She remains a polarizing figure in the gay community due to her opposition to same-sex marriage.

Somerville was given an honorary doctorate by Ryerson in June, despite protests by students, faculty and staff.

“Some people could use (her statements) to justify their own homophobia… there’s so many facets to this issue,” said Chris Wright, education and campaigns co-ordinator for RyePride.

Wright said he was not going to protest at U of T, but was going to write letters to the CBC.

“I don’t want to draw more attention to her platform. I want to question why they are giving her a platform.”

Somerville’s lecture at U of T was the final installment in a series entitled “The Ethical Imagination,” which will be broadcast on CBC Radio the week of Nov. 6. After the speech, Somerville did field questions from audience members, many of whom challenged her stand on homosexuality.

“I genuinely believe children need a mother and a father – preferably their biological mother and father,” Somerville said.

Somerville maintains that she is a supporter of gay rights, but thinks they are trumped by children’s rights, She also claims same-sex marriage sets dangerous legal precedents for the use of reproductive technologies.


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