Pride-colour-decorated vehicles are to roll through White Rock convoy-style July 24, as part of the White Rock Pride Society’s 1st Annual Pride Ride. (White Rock Pride Society Facebook photo)

Pride-colour-decorated vehicles are to roll through White Rock convoy-style July 24, as part of the White Rock Pride Society’s 1st Annual Pride Ride. (White Rock Pride Society Facebook photo)

Humanist Association joins as intervenor in White Rock Pride complaint against church

BC Human Rights Tribunal will allow BCHA limited participation in complaint over use of hall

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has agreed to allow, in part, the BC Humanist Association (BCHA) to intervene on a complaint filed by the White Rock Pride Society against the Star of the Sea Catholic Parish.

In the summer of 2019, the White Rock Pride Society filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal, alleging discrimination by the Star of the Sea Parish on the basis of sexual orientation.

Earlier that year, Pride Society president Ernie Klassen told Peace Arch News that his organization felt discriminated against because Star of the Sea would not rent its community centre to the society for a “Love is Love” pride event.

Archbishop delegate James Borkowski told PAN that same year that the decision to deny the event application was made because the event would be contrary to the teachings on faith and morals of the Catholic church.

On Tuesday, (Feb. 2), the tribunal granted an application by the BCHA to intervene on the matter, which was opposed by the parish. The society didn’t take a position on the application.

While the tribunal has allowed the application, it did not do so in full.

RELATED: White Rock Pride Society files human rights complaint against Star of the Sea Church

According to the submission, the BCHA is an “independent, non-partisan, registered charity that provides a community for the non-religious and campaigns for progressive secular values.”

The BCHA also works “to promote progressive values, secularism and works to end religious privilege and discrimination based on religion and belief.”

The organization identified a number of issues of interest pertaining to the Pride Society complaint, including “the substance of the right to freedom of religion in a commercial or quasi-commercial context; how freedom of religion should be balanced with the right to be free from discrimination, particularly in the commercial realm; and the extent to which a discriminating party may rely on stereotypes, misconceptions and/or its own inaccurate perception of a group’s purpose, in order to justify discriminating against that group.”

RELATED: White Rock Catholic church stands firm on decision to deny gay pride event

In the decision, tribunal member Emily Ohler agreed with arguments made by the Star of the Sea that some of the submissions proposed by the BCHA are beyond the scope of the complaint and would have the potential to shift the focus away from the two parties involved.

“In particular, submissions on the right to be free from religion and on protections for or the viewpoint of atheists, agnostics and the non-religious are not clearly tethered to the issues raised by the Complaint nor likely to usefully contribute to the resolution of the issue that is,” Ohler wrote.

The BCHA also proposed to put forward a framework of understanding that allows for both freedoms to flourish to fullest extent possible, helping foster a pluralistic society where citizens with all manners of beliefs can coexist peacefully.

“This, in my view, is too vague and broad to ground in the specific facts within which the issues in this Complaint live. It is unclear to me how such a broad and conceptual submission could be of assistance to the Tribunal here,” Ohler wrote.

However, the BCHA said that the substance of its submissions will focus on the extent to which one can rely on freedom of religion to justify discrimination when participating in the public, commercial sphere.

“On this, I am satisfied that the BCHA is likely to make a useful contribution to the resolution of the issues raised in the complaint,” Ohler wrote.

While Ohler declined to allow the BCHA to lead evidence, she wrote that she is of the view that written closing submissions are sufficient for the BCHA to bring its submissions on the question at issue.

“In all of the circumstances, I exercise my discretion to grant the application in part. I have placed appropriate limits on the scope of BCHA’s participation,” Ohler wrote.

In conclusion, the BCHA was granted leave to file written submissions at the close of the hearing, not to exceed 10 pages in length. The scope of BCHA’s submissions is limited to the issue of the parameters of freedom of religion when offering services to the public; and it does not have standing to take part in any procedural matters before the Tribunal without leave of the Tribunal.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

PrideReligionWhite Rock

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum speaks at a press conference in August about provincial government approval of the city’s change to a municipal force, joined by councillors (from left) Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton and Doug Elford. Members of the National Police Federation claim there is still no transition plan in place although Surrey RCMP’s contract with the city is due to end March 31.(File photo)
National Police Federation members slam Surrey police transition to Surrey Board of Trade

During virtual meeting, bargaining unit representatives say municipal force ‘not a done deal’

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia’s (CFSEU-BC) Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET) has arrested a man who was on the run for nearly a decade. (File photo)
9-year search for international drug trafficking suspect ends with arrest at YVR

Khamla Wong, charged in 2012, taken into custody Feb. 24 by BC-CFSEU

Pixabay image
Surrey council moves to update city’s telecommunication antennas policy

But councillor says health and safety protocols are nearly 40 years old

Eagle watchers are celebrating the first egg of the season, captured on video in South Surrey. (Hancock Wildlife Foundation photo)
LIVE VIDEO: South Surrey nesting eagles welcome first egg of the season

Parents ‘Sur’ and ‘Res’ to share incubating duties

Boosh Food founder Connie Marples (right) delivers some Boosh Food items to Christine Mohr, CEO of Options Community Services, in December, 2020. Boosh Food has just moved their operations to Cloverdale. (Photo: Moonraker PR)
Boosh Food moves to Cloverdale

‘Plant-based comfort food’ company moving to 65A Avenue

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Island teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Shaelene Keeler Bell. (Facebook)
Candlelight vigil planned for Chilliwack mother missing for four weeks

Virtual event to ‘spread some light’ for 23-year-old Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Most Read