Former White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin cut a rainbow-coloured ribbon at the official unveiling of White Rock’s rainbow crosswalk in the Five Corners neighbourhood last July. (Bob Bezubiak/Twitter photo)

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

The BC Human Rights Tribunal complaint was filed June 3

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

Last April, White Rock Pride Society president Ernie Klassen told Peace Arch News that his organization feels discriminated against because Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Parish will not rent its community centre to the society for an upcoming pride event.

Klassen said he was initially told by Star of the Sea that the community centre was available for the date the society wanted, and he put in an application.

However, the Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Klassen said, turned down the application.

RELATED: White Rock Pride Society ‘discriminated’ against by Catholic church, president says

Archbishop delegate James Borkowski emailed PAN a statement earlier this year, explaining the decision to not rent the society to the Pride Society.

“The parish reviews all applications for events to ensure that the proposed use of the parish center would not be contrary to the teachings on faith and morals of the Catholic Church. We regret that this will inevitably disappoint some people and we strive to give answers in as timely a fashion as possible,” the statement read.

Klassen filed the Human Rights Tribunal complaint, on behalf of the White Rock Pride Society, on Monday.

The complaint makes note of a 2018 fundraiser hosted by the society, “Love is Love,” at the Elks Hall. This year, the society plans on hosting a larger fundraiser for the Alexandra Neighbourhood House.

“Given the success of the 2018 Fundraiser, the Pride Society anticipated that its 2019 fundraising gala… would be larger than the one in 2018,” the complaint says.

Requirements for the event, according to the complaint, is a building with a capacity for at least 200 guests (White Rock Elks Hall has capacity for approximately 120 people), the facility includes a fully-equipped kitchen, a low rental rate, and that it be located in White Rock and available on July 27.

“The Pride Society considered several potential venues in White Rock, including the White Rock Curling Club, White Rock City Community Centre and again, Elks Hall. Given its location, facilities, low rental rate and capacity for a potentially larger event, the Community Centre was the Pride Society’s first choice of venue.”

The complaint says that the refusal to rent the community hall “damaged the inherent dignity, feelings and self-respect of the Pride Society’s members.”

The Pride Society is seeking a declaration from the Human Rights Tribunal that the Star of the Sea Parish’s conduct “was discriminatory and without bona fide and reasonable justification.”

In a news release to PAN, the White Rock Pride Society said it is not in a position to provide further comment regarding the matter, and the Archdiocese of Vancouver has not yet responded to PAN’s request for comment as of press deadline Wednesday.

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