Man who wore threatening shirt towards gay people stands by it
Published Tuesday, November 1, 2016 6:26PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, November 1, 2016 6:39PM EDT
Julien Clément is clear about how he feels about people who are gay.
"I hate gays for real," Clément says in French. "I hate gays."
The 18-year-old man belongs to a group called ATG, which stands for anti-gay. He and his friend Yan Miller have been part of the group for years, and they're not afraid to express how they feel.
"I don't like gay people," says Miller. "I'm not homophobic, I'm not scared of them."
On Saturday, Clément wore a shirt with a threatening message on a visit to Saunders Farm. Under the group's name, the shirt says "If you're gay, don't approch [sic] me, I'll kill you."
The woman who took the picture was appalled.
"It's hate speech in writing," says Whitney Martin, who was sitting behind Clèment at the Tavern on the farm.
"It's threatening to kill someone because of their sexual orientation. It's not okay."
Martin immediately reported the shirt to staff at the farm. But by the time owner Angela Grant Saunders was able to get to the Tavern, Clément was gone. Grant Saunders says the farm has never dealt with a situation like this.
"To have something like that come up at the end of the 25th season is disgusting," she says. "If somebody's going to be that blatant about a statement like that, we will stand up strong and say no."
The picture has caused a firestorm online. Martin's post has garnered over 1000 shares and hundreds of comments.
"We all have the right to free speech and to express our opinion, but that right doesn't allow us or protect us from threatening a group of people or promoting hatred against this specific group," says Martin.
Ottawa police confirm they're investigating the incident, as well as some of the comments on Facebook.
Clément says he's received threats, but isn't worried about criminal charges. A criminal defence lawyer says charges are possible though.
"In my view, the shirt, when it starts saying things like 'if you approach me, I will kill you' and you're the member of an identifiable group, in this case somebody who's homosexual, then yes, it could constitute Section 319 of the Criminal Code and could be prosecuted," says Paul Lewandowski.
No matter the outcome, Clément and Miller plan to stay in the group.
"It sucks that we're not allowed to have whatever we want," says Miller.
"They can have a gay flag or a parade, but we can't have a shirt?"