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B.C. math instructor's firing over 'deeply intolerant' YouTube videos not religious discrimination, human rights tribunal rules

A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing room is shown in this file image from March 29, 2010. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck) A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing room is shown in this file image from March 29, 2010. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
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A B.C. math instructor who was fired because of his “deeply intolerant” YouTube videos calling non-Christian gods the Antichrist and saying women who have abortions should be put to death, among other statements, has had his complaint at the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal thrown out.

In his complaint, Gleb Glebov claimed his termination constituted religious discrimination, specifically against his Christian views. His former employer, Fraser International College in Burnaby, applied to have the complaint dismissed.

In order to dismiss the complaint, tribunal member Theressa Etmanski had to weigh whether posting the videos—wherein Glebov preached about his views on abortion, sexual assault, homosexuality, gender identity and non-Christian religions—was a part of his “sincerely held” religious beliefs, and whether is ability to practise his religion would be compromised if he couldn’t post the videos.

“While he may hold Christian religious beliefs, he has not provided any evidence to indicate that publicly disseminating his views is part of his sincerely held religious belief or practice,” Etmanski wrote in the decision issued Jan. 26.

THE VIDEOS

Fraser International College gave the tribunal links to four publicly available YouTube videos, and a summary of the views Glebov expressed in them, which he did not dispute.

The decision says Glebov’s videos contain views including: women who have abortions and doctors who perform them should get the death penalty; women lie about rape to justify abortion; if women got married they wouldn’t be raped; homosexuality and transgender identity are “garbage”; transgender people should be put in an asylum; religions including Sikhism, Sunni Islam, Catholicism and Kabbalah are false; and gods such as Allah and Krishna are the Antichrist.

Glebov started teaching at Fraser International College in 2017, according to the decision. In November 2019, an anonymous tipster sent an email to the school’s director, alerting her to the instructor’s YouTube videos. One of them was posted on a school Facebook page identifying Glebov as a teacher by name.

Then on Dec. 9, the director held a meeting with Glebov, which he secretly recorded. The audio and transcript were reviewed by the tribunal. The director says the videos—“sermons with (Glebov) preaching … some potentially hate speech”—go against the school’s code of conduct for teachers and conflict of interest policy and that the college would need to investigate any potential impact they have on students.

Glebov was fired via email on Dec. 20, 2019.

At the tribunal, the school stated it doesn’t want to place restrictions on Glebov’s ability to practise his religion or discuss his beliefs privately. The college said it terminated Glebov because he broadcast his views in a highly public setting, “where they could be and were accessed by the FIC community,” which goes against its policy to “to avoid actual or perceived conflicts of interest and behave in a manner that is not intimidating or offensive to its community.”

THE DECISION

To receive protection on the basis of religious belief, Glebov would need to show he sincerely believed posting his YouTube videos was an objective or subjective requirement of his faith, Etmanski said.

The school argued that Glebov would not be able to make that case, and the tribunal ultimately agreed.

Glebov claimed he expressed his opinions in the context of a sermon, explaining “he expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text,” the decision reads.

He told the tribunal the basis for his views came from the King James Bible and the book “30-Second Religion.” Glebov stated he “read chapters from this book during his sermons on various religious beliefs and contrasted them with the religious beliefs revealed in the King James Bible,” according to the decision, and he said “the statements communicated were true” and he “believed them to be true.”

However, Etmanski said Glebov “has not provided any basis for saying that publicly disseminating his views is related to the tenets of his faith or that his ability to practice his religion would be compromised if he were unable to do so.”

Moreover, the tribunal said Glebov did not provide any evidence that he “had a religious duty to spread his views, or that he manifests his religious beliefs through activism.”

Etmanski concluded that if Glebov’s complaint were to go to a hearing, there is “no reasonable prospect” he would be successful establishing protection from religious discrimination and the tribunal would not find his termination was “an adverse impact related to his religion.”

“Glebov has not provided evidence to support that the conduct which led to the termination of his employment is connected to a sincerely held religious belief or practice,” Etmanski wrote, and dismissed the complaint.

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