Citing the now famous section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Federal Court of Canada ruled in late October that male and female homosexuals can no longer be barred from Canada’s Armed Forces. The court had been asked to rule on the case of Michele Douglas, a woman who was dismissed from the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1989 because she admitted to being a lesbian. Douglas, who was asking $550,000 in damages from the Department of Defence, will receive $100,000 in compensation. There are currently four homosexual-related cases before the courts. Other homosexuals who have been dismissed from the Armed Forces in the past will likely launch lawsuits which will result in compensation being paid from the taxpayer’s funds.
This latest ruling is just one more in a series which has the courts and other unelected bodies making and changing the laws in Canada as regards the family and sexual issues. On August 6 the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that “sexual orientation” must be inserted into the Canadian Human Rights Act (see Interim, Oct. 1992). On September 1, an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the Ontario government must pay survivor pensions to long-term partners of gay and lesbian public servants (see Interim Oct. 1992).
In an editorial published shortly after the Armed Forces ruling, the Ottawa Citizen expressed satisfaction that “the political bosses” had been overruled by the courts. The Globe & Mail echoed this sentiment. “Discrimination against homosexuals in the military was wrong,” the paper said. “The Charter set it right long before Parliament would have done.”
Section 15 of the Charter bans discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.” Nowhere does it mention homosexuality. According to the Globe editorial, however, the drafters of the original Charter intended the courts to add “groups not specifically mentioned.” This adding process would of course not be governed by elected representatives of the people, but unelected members of the judiciary.
Persons being added to the protected list within the Charter definitely do not include unborn babies however, at least as far as federal Minister Joe Clark is concerned. Responding to a letter from the Right Reverend Robert Mercer, Archbishop of the Anglican Catholic Church in Canada, Clark recently ruled out the unborn completely.
Mercer had asked Clark why the unborn were not protected when the constitution was rewritten. “I would contend,” Clark wrote, “that refraining from including protection of the unborn in the Constitution is another step towards individual freedom. While we may not agree with the choice made by individual women, I think we must acknowledge that the opportunity to exercise choice is an indication of greater freedom.”
The reaction of the military to the Douglas homosexuality case was not long in coming. Quoted in the Ottawa Sun, General John de Chastelain, Chief of Defense staff, stated that the Canadian Forces will “comply fully” with the court’s decision. This compliance will undoubtedly have a major effect on how the military carries out its daily business.
In an editorial published October 29, the Ottawa Citizen called on the military to establish “sensitivity education” to deal with soldiers, sailors, and air force personnel who might not be willing to accept homosexuals in their midst.
Douglas was represented by lawyer Clayton Ruby, a man who has defended abortionists and homosexual rights activists in the past. Currently he is a regular contributor to the Globe &Mail. Ruby was described as a “national treasure” by Canadian commentator and writer June Callwood for, amongst other things, defending a gay magazine that was charged in 1977 under obscenity laws for publishing an article titled “Men loving boys loving men.” Quoted in the Ottawa Sun, Ruby described the judgment as “inevitable.” “Laws require equality for everybody who can do the job,” he said.
Ruby’s view was not echoed by Alberta MP and Korean War veteran Jack Shields. Quoted in the Ottawa Sun, Shields stated that the decision lacked “common sense” and showed that the Canadian courts have been given too much power in Canada.
Shields believes that “serious disruptions” could result in areas of the military where close contact is a must, such as tank crews.
The drive to make homosexuality accepted in all areas of Canadian life was reflected in recent months not only in pro-homosexual court decisions. On October 22 the Ottawa Citizen published a three-quarter-page article in which homosexual women have born children through artificial insemination were featured.
According to the article, at least ten lesbian women have been regularly inseminated by Ottawa physician Norm Barwin. Barwin is past President of Planned Parenthood of Canada. Quoted in the paper, Barwin stated that “the right to parent is a basic human right.”
In Ottawa, only Barwin will inseminate lesbians. The Ottawa Civic Hospital will only perform the procedure on women who have male partners.
Dr. André Lalonde, spokes man for the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, stated in the Citizen that the society recommends that doctors not restrict artificial insemination based on “discriminating or stereotypical judgements.” He did add, however, that “most studies show that it’s better to have kids in a family based on a mother and a father.” Barwin needless to say, disagreed. “Most lesbian couples” he said, “are caring, loving and giving and support one another.”