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Quebec court acquits author, declares part of child pornography law invalid

Last Updated Sep 25, 2020 at 1:38 pm EDT

MONTREAL — A Quebec judge has acquitted an author of a child pornography charge in connection with fictional scenes in the writer’s horror novel.

Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard also ruled that certain articles of Canada’s child pornography laws violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and are therefore invalid.

Yvan Godbout was charged with producing child pornography over passages found in his horror novel, “Hansel et Gretel,” which include scenes of sexual abuse of a minor-aged brother and sister.

In a decision published Thursday, Blanchard agreed with Godbout’s argument that the law as written is too wide, and violates the author’s rights to freedom of expression and of security.

The judge notes the law was widened in 2005 to include not just material that advocates for or encourages pedophilia, but any description of sexual acts with children, as long as the description is a dominant characteristic of the work of fiction and is done with a sexual purpose. 

Blanchard concludes the changes effectively rendered illegal an overly wide swath of literature, unduly limiting freedom of expression, and that the prosecution failed to make the case such works of literature pose a risk to children.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press