‘Compromise’ means you can be Christian
as long your Christianity doesn’t mean anything
The Ontario Divisional Court released its ruling June 18, in the controversial case of Brillinger vs Brockie. The case involves Scott Brockie, a Christian printer from Toronto who was fined by the Ontario Human Rights Commission after a homosexual activist group claimed discrimination when Brockie refused to publish their materials.
The Court found the HRC judgment to be overly broad in its application to Brockie by failing to accord sufficient weight to his right to freedom of religion under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It found that a February 2000 decision of a Board of Inquiry requiring Brockie and his company, Imaging Excellence Inc., to provide printing services to the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, and to award damages of $5,000, was flawed.
In recognition of Brockie’s religious and conscientious rights, the previous order was amended to provide that Brockie and his company would not be required to print “material of a nature which could reasonably be considered to be in direct conflict with the core elements of his religious beliefs or creed”. Accordingly, Brockie would not be required to print materials which proselytized the gay and lesbian lifestyle or ridiculed his religious beliefs. However, a request to print letterhead, business cards, or conceivably a directory of goods and services of interest to the gay and lesbian community could not be refused.
The Catholic Civil Rights League, one of the intervenors in the case, points out that the disheartening news is that the Court’s approach will invite the HRC to review matters of conscience or to assess one’s core religious belief or creed in order to assess one’s defence to charges of discrimination by activists within the homosexual community. Rather than recognize Brockie’s earnest belief that the provision of his company’s services would link him with the promotion of sinful behaviour, the Court has limited that exercise of conscience to the particulars of what has been requested.
CCRL President Tom Langan, commented: “Brockie sought not to be involved in an organization which promotes sinful behaviour. It is inappropriate to force Brockie to participate in such demands with a service which was recognized as being readily available throughout the City of Toronto.” Langan continued: “Brockie did not refuse to provide his services to Brillinger because he was gay, but because the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives advocated a gay lifestyle. The Court’s ruling remains a substantial intrusion into Brockie’s religious freedom, as it expects him to turn a blind eye to the very objects of a potential customer’s enterprise.”
The CCRL intervened as part of the Canadian Religious Freedom Alliance, in conjunction with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and the Christian Legal Fellowship in support of Brockie to advance arguments of religious freedom and protection of conscience as it related to a commercial activity. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association also intervened on this appeal in support of Brockie’s position.