Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 24, 2002
Court ruling strikes blow for religious freedom
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
A Toronto businessman who refused to provide printing services to a gay and lesbian organization because homosexuality is offensive to his religious beliefs has won a partial victory.
The Ontario Divisional Court says Scott Brockie can refuse to print material that infringes his conscience or religion but not on the basis of the mandate of the organization - in this case the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.
"Unfortunately, Mr. Brockie is not able to make use of this right of freedom of conscience or religion in this case," said Thomas Langan, president of the Catholic Civil Rights League in a news release June 17.
Brockie sought not to be involved in an organization that "promotes sinful behaviour," he said. "It is inappropriate to force Mr. Brockie to participate in such demands with a service which was recognized as being readily available throughout the City of Toronto."
The divisional court ruled that a June 2000 decision of a board of inquiry appointed under the Ontario Human Rights Code did not give sufficient weight to Brockie's right to freedom of religion and conscience under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
But the court added that while Brockie does not have to print material that proselytizes the gay and lesbian lifestyle or ridicules his religious beliefs, a request to print materials such as letterhead, business cards for the gay and lesbian community could not be refused.
Janet Epp Buckingham, general legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, said, "It is the first time this kind of right of freedom of conscience or religion has been recognized for business owners under human rights codes. This is a significant step forward for religious freedom in Canada."