Our Family, a Catholic monthly, is in trouble with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, following its publication of an article critical of homosexual activity.

“A Psychoanalytic Look at Homosexuality and AIDS,” published in the February issue, was written by Melvin Anchell M.D., a Californian psychoanalyst with 40 years’ experience in psychiatry and medicine.  Dr. Anchell maintains that homosexuality is neither glandular nor genetic in origin, but a psychological disorder, due to the arresting of the individual at an immature stage of sexual development.

“Today’s humanitarian effort to understand and sympathize with those unfortunate individuals who have become perverted is commendable,” wrote Dr. Anchell, “but it has gone overboard in a tolerance for perversion that has left the normal individual unprotected…The problem is acute.  Either our society accepts the tenets of perverts and becomes a bastion for perversion, or we protect mature sexuality dependent on family and social conscience.  There can be no compromise.”

In a letter to Our Family editor, Father Albert Lalonde, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission said the article had depicted “gay people, and people physically disabled by AIDS, in hateful terms and in ways calculated to arouse in the reader feelings of revulsion and disgust.”  Commissioner Ronald Knizeniski wrote that while sexual orientation is “not presently a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code,” The Code does prohibit “the publication and dissemination of material which affronts the dignity of people or which exposes people to hatred or ridicule on the basis of their race, creed, religion, colour, sex…”

Father Lalonde responded by asking for clarification of the Commission’s letter.  Was this an official letter of reprimand, he asked, and, if so, exactly what terminology was judged to be hateful.  “If this article is judged by your Commission to be hate literature, have you shown respect for the due process of the law by condemning an author and his writing without giving him a hearing or without investigating to see whether there is a legitimate defence for publishing such material?” asked Father Lalonde.

Commissioner Knuzeniski’s response, that the first letter “should be read as one of concern and nothing more should be read into it” did not help much.  Copies of the letter had been sent to Father Lalonde’s publisher and Oblate superior, Father Gerald Wieser, and to Bishop Blaise Morand, taking it out of the realm of “private communication,” as Mr. Knizeniski termed it.  Father Lalonde also questions the Commission’s apparent assumption that it has a right to exercise editorial control over Our Family in such a way.

In an interview with the Western Report, Father Lalonde said that the article was trying to refute the notion that “this is simply a harmless lifestyle.  It’s not,” He pointed out that the Catholic Church has always considered the practice of homosexuality a sin.  “It still does,” write Virginia Byfield and Mary Nemeth,” (vide Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1975), though certain elements of it have admittedly been giving homosexuals conflicting signals.

“Certainly Christians have no right to condemn other people, says Father Lalonde.  They must make a careful and quite difficult distinction, though, between sin and sinner.  He cites Jesus’ encounter with the adulteress:  He accepted her totally, but at the end he said, ‘Go and sin no more.’  That must be the Christian attitude to homosexuals and to homosexual practice.  To ‘tolerate’ (i.e. condone) sin is not kind, to the sinner or anyone the sinner may influence, and assuredly far from harmless.”