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B.C. math instructor fired for 'deeply intolerant' YouTube videos loses human rights complaint

Gleb Glebov lost his job as a sessional instructor at Fraser International College for making YouTube videos the school characterizes as containing 'homophobic/transphobic, misogynistic and other deeply intolerant and discriminatory views.' (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)
Gleb Glebov lost his job as a sessional instructor at Fraser International College for making YouTube videos the school characterizes as containing 'homophobic/transphobic, misogynistic and other deeply intolerant and discriminatory views.' (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)

WARNING: This story mentions homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, gender violence and religious discrimination. 

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a complaint from a college instructor who was fired over YouTube videos calling for the death penalty for women who have abortions, suggesting transgender people should be forced into asylums, and referring to Allah as the anti-Christ.

Gleb Glebov, formerly a sessional math instructor at Fraser International College (FIC) in Burnaby, just east of Vancouver, filed a complaint alleging the school's administration had discriminated against his Christian beliefs when they terminated his position in December 2019.

But the tribunal found that, no matter how sincere his beliefs, Glebov had failed to show that his religion required him to make the videos and post them on a website visited by billions of people.

"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," tribunal member Theressa Etmanski wrote in a Jan. 26 decision.

CBC has reached out to Glebov for comment.

Glebov worked at FIC for about two years before he was fired, the decision says. The college operates under an agreement with Simon Fraser University to provide international students with a pathway to university.

According to the decision, Glebov's videos covered a wide range of topics, including religion, rape, sexuality and gender identity. In its submissions, the college described them as containing "homophobic/transphobic, misogynistic and other deeply intolerant and discriminatory views."

The decision outlines some of the specific views Glebov expressed in his videos, including that: most rape allegations are made up or used as excuses for abortion; women who have abortions and the doctors who perform them should be put to death; rape wouldn't happen if women were married; homosexuality and transgenderism are against nature and "garbage"; transgender people should all be institutionalized; Sikhism, Sunni Islam, Catholicism and Kabbalah are false religions; and all non-Christian gods are the anti-Christ or Satan.

Videos were meant to be sermons: instructor

FIC's director began looking into Glebov's videos after receiving an anonymous tip on Nov. 30, 2019, the decision says.

At least one of Glebov's videos had been posted to a number of SFU-related Facebook pages with concerns about the content. That video is no longer available online because of a copyright claim.

Glebov secretly recorded a meeting with the college's director on Dec. 9, 2019, in which she told him she had seen six or seven videos containing "some potentially hate speech." She warned him that the college would need to investigate the impact on students because "the content in the videos goes against [FIC's] professional code of conduct for teachers and [FIC's] conflict of interest policy."

Gleb Glebov taught math at Fraser International College in Burnaby, B.C., from 2017-2019.
Gleb Glebov taught math at Fraser International College in Burnaby, B.C., from 2017-2019.

Gleb Glebov taught math at Fraser International College in Burnaby, B.C., from 2017-2019. (MathPotentials.com)

Glebov was fired 11 days later.

Glebov told the tribunal that his remarks in the videos were made in the context of a sermon, and "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."

His ideas, he explained, came from the King James Bible, contrasted with summaries of other religions from a book called 30-Second Religion.

"The statements communicated were true," Glebov said.

But FIC argued that, no matter how deeply Glebov believed in the things he said, he needed to prove his freedom to practise his religion would be compromised if he couldn't post these statements on YouTube.

Tribunal member Etmanski agreed, pointing to previous cases where Christians have brought evidence showing they felt compelled by God or Jesus Christ to preach the gospel to their coworkers at a fish processing plant or distribute transphobic flyers targeting a political candidate.

In both cases, however, the tribunal ultimately found that the actions of those religious believers were not protected by the Human Rights Code. It dismissed a complaint from the fish processing plant employee over his boss's requirement to stop preaching at work, and ordered the flyer-maker to pay $55,000 in damages to the transgender woman he'd targeted.