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Christian Horizons' discrimination case

The appeal

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The appeal:

bullet2008-MAY-14 (approximately): Christian Horizons decided to appeal part of the Ontario Human Rights Commission's recent ruling. According to the Voice of the Martyrs:

"Christian Horizons stated that it will no longer require employees to sign the code but plans to appeal the remainder of the tribunal's order. Opposition political parties have called on the province to consider pulling funding from the group, claiming that it is unjustly imposing its beliefs on its employees." 1

bullet2008-DEC-22: The Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC) was granted Intervener Status in support of the Christian Horizons appeal. In Section 37, 42, and 47 of their Factum, they state that:
bullet

"The Tribunal?s error in this case was to ignore the Charter rights of Christian Horizons and its employees when analyzing and interpreting s.5, s.24(1)(a) and s.41(1)(a) of the Ontario Human Rights Code."

bullet"The effect of the Tribunal?s decision in this case was to completely deny Christian Horizons and its employees their constitutional right to practice their religion by providing charitable services to the disadvantaged members of the public and their families."
bullet"The legislation has the effect of presenting a religious charitable organization like Christian Horizons with a choice: restrict their charitable activities to their co-religionists in order to obtain the benefit or abandon their religious beliefs." 2

The "benefit" referred to above refers to the freedom of the organization to continue to be homophobic 3 by discriminating in employment against sexually active persons with a homosexual orientation. The "religious beliefs" that they would have to abandon is their homophobia 3 -- that is, their rejection of equal employment rights for persons of all sexual orientations. They would not be required to abandon the beliefs that homosexual activity is "unnatural," "immoral," or "contrary to the scriptures," as expressed in their now discontinued Lifestyle and Morality statement. 4

Other interveners in support of Christian Horizons are also conservative Christian:

bulletThe Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC).
bulletOntario Conference of Catholic Bishops (OCCB).

In support of Connie Heintz and the Human Rights Commission is
bulletEGALE Canada, who describe their group as "Canada?s LGBT human rights organization: advancing equality, diversity, education and justice." 4

The appeal may be held as early as 2009-APR.

Opinion:

This case may well be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. It may well be a very important case in determining the extent to which religious groups can discriminate in employment against individuals that they consider immoral, but that much of the rest of society accepts as simply having a minority sexual orientation.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Canadian Christian Organization Appealing Human Rights Ruling," The Voice of the Martyrs, 2008-MAY-14, at: http://www.persecution.net/ This is believed to be a temporary listing.
  2. The text of the CCCC factum is online at: http://www.cccc.org/
  3. Unfortunately, the terms "homophobic" and "homophobia" have multiple definitions. On this site we define "homophobia" as:

    "engaging in a behavior aimed at denigrating or restricting the human rights of persons who have a homosexual orientation and/or who engages in homosexual behavior."

    This, of course, includes firing employees because of their private behavior at home.

  4. "A victory for LGBT human rights or a race to the Supreme Court?, Egale Canada, 2008-DEC-18, at: http://www.egale.ca/

Site navigation:

Home> Religious info> Basic info> Canada> Discrimination> Chr. Horizons>here

Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posting: 2009-FEB-25
Latest update: 2009-FEB-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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