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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages (SSMs) in Canada

Complaints before the Alberta Human Rights
re: Bishop Henry's pastoral letter. Part 3

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This is a continuation of a previous essay

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Religious conservatives and gay-positive groups have zeroed in on different passages in Bishop Henry's letter:

bullet None of the reactions by religious conservatives that we have seen in the media or on the Internet refer to Bishop Henry's suggestion that the state oppress homosexuals or that homosexual behavior is "evil." Their concern refers solely to the first point listed above. That is, Bishop Henry must enjoy the religious freedom to express his church's beliefs on homosexuality. So far, nobody has disputed this point. The Bishop's religious freedoms do not appear to be in jeopardy.

bullet Most of the reactions by gay-positive groups and individuals refer to passages in the letter which:

bullet Consider homosexual behavior to be in the same class as criminal and what are generally considered to be immoral acts.

bullet Advocate that the government apply "coercive power" to "proscribe or curtail" homosexual behavior. Presumably this would involve re-criminalization of homosexual behavior, with the potential that sexually active gays and lesbians be arrested, charged, tried, fined and/or given jail sentences.

bullet Imply that the church teaches that homosexual acts are evil rather than merely sinful.

Tom Cerber posted an essay on The Politic web site, which said in part:

"EGALE draws a dubious distinction between Henry’s legitimate (in their eyes) representation of his church’s viewpoint, and 'crossing the line' to promote coercion. What if his church’s position is identical with that of the Canadian state 35 years ago - that homosexuality is a crime? Does advocating a belief once held by the Canadian government a crime?" 1

A case before the Commission might claim that a widely distributed letter which:

bullet Considers homosexuality to be similar to negotiationg an arrangement for prostitution -- which is an illegal act in Canada --, and
bullet Advocates that governments apply "coercive power" to "proscribe or curtail" homosexual behavior, and
bullet Calls homosexual behavior "evil,"

is an offense under the act.

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The two complaints against Bishop Henry were dropped:

During a conciliation session at the Alberta Human Rights Commission on 2005-AUG-25, Norman Greenfield met with Bishop Henry, the bishop's legal representatives and a Commission lawyer. commented "...that the conciliation process is held 'without prejudice,' so what is said remains in the room and falls under the banner of confidentiality." However, both Bishop Henry and Norman Greenfield did make general comments about the process:

bullet Bishop Henry said that he was pleased with the outcome of the conciliation process.


Greenfield said:

"What I wanted to do is bring the issue to the media. There really is no other platform to do this, with the media selective in what sort of discussions they want to hear and the lack of public forums in the city for people like myself to go on and talk about this issue.....I never had a problem with the bishop or what he's preaching from the pulpit. I just had a problem with him asking our provincial government to use their coercive power to make same-sex marriage illegal." 2 reported that:

"Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell comments on the case saying:

'Sadly, the commission isn't going to go after Norm for instigating this episode in the theatre of the absurd'."

"Others suggest it is time to put the ideologically oriented human rights commission process to bed. 'These Mickey Mouse courts have been frequently used by homosexual activists around the country to quash free speech and freedom of conscience,' Campaign Life Coalition President Jim Hughes told  Indeed, the mostly unnaccountable [sic] human rights complaints process has successfully been used to force Christian mayors to declare gay pride days, to force a newspaper and a Christian man to pay a fine for having an ad merely citing Biblical references on homosexuality, to have a Christian printer pay a fine for refusing to print materials for a homosexual activist organization and much more." 2

It seems that the complaint by Carol Johnson was also dropped. The Law Society of Alberta does not list any ruling by the Alberta Human Rights Commission in the case between 2005-AUG and 2008-DEC. 3

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References used:

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

  1. Tom Cerber, "Homosexuality, Newspeak, and Censorship: Bishop Henry Hit with Human Rights Complaint," The Politic, 2005-MAR-30, at:
  2. "Gay Human Rights Complaint Against Calgary Bishop Dropped - Was All About Getting Media Attention,", 2005-AUG-25, at: Copyrighted © Used by permission.
  3. "Alberta Human Rights Commission," rulings, The Law Society of Alberta, at:

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Site navigation:

 Home page > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Canada > here

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Copyright © 2005 & 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Initial posting: 2005-NOV-03
Latest update: 2012-JUL-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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