On Nov. 15, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal announced that it would not hear the case of Christian teacher Chris Kempling, who says he is being discriminated against due to his religious convictions.
Kempling, a teacher with the Quesnel School Board, has repeatedly been chastised by his teachers’ union and employers for his outspokenness on the issue of homosexuality. The appeal to the tribunal was based on a case in which he was disciplined by the school board for granting an interview to CBC Radio in December 2003 about re-orientation therapy services, which he provides as part of his private counselling practice.
Kempling reacted to the tribunal’s refusal to consider his case by wondering whether Christians will be left with any rights: “If I can’t discuss the services of my private Christian counselling practice on my own time, where is the freedom of speech that is supposed to be guaranteed by the Charter?”
Kempling noted that the school board provided no evidence anyone from the public had complained about the interview, nor was he allowed to mount a proper defence.
The tribunal cited a June decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal against Kempling, in another case relating to disciplinary action by the B.C. College of Teachers. The court decided that he had “no chance of success” in arguing for his religious rights.
The B.C. Court of Appeal ruled that Kempling’s actions brought the College of Teachers into disrepute and therefore, the college was justified in punishing him. Kempling has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to review the appeal court’s decision. He should know next month if the SCOC will hear the case.
Rev. Tristan Emmanuel, executive director of the Equipping Christians for the Public Square Centre, said that the BCHRT’s decision to not hear the case could have wide-ranging implications. “Kempling isn’t the only victim. All people of good will and conscience have been victimized by the tyranny of a few … that they will stop at nothing to strip away the fundamental rights of their critics,” he said.