Complainant to appeal Catholic Insight ruling

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  • August 14, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - The saga of Catholic Insight's trouble with the Canadian Human Rights Commission is not over. After having a complaint against the small magazine dismissed in early July, it has now learned that it faces a judicial appeal of that decision.

Edmonton gay activist Rob Wells had complained to the commission that Catholic Insight was inciting hatred against homosexuals through its ongoing opposition to same-sex marriage and what it calls the homosexual agenda. But the commission decided not to hear the complaint, though not before Catholic Insight had spent some $20,000 preparing its defence.

Now Wells has exercised his right to appeal the commission decision to the Federal Court of Canada. Catholic Insight received official word of this on Aug. 12. There is no information available yet on when, or whether, the appeal will be heard.

“We believe all concerned persons in Canada and elsewhere should be awakened to the challenges to free speech as well as the gross inequity of the financial burden between complainants and defendants in these 'human rights' cases as presently set up under Canadian law,” the magazine said in a statement released Aug. 13.

The magazine was referring to the standard practice of human rights commissions in Canada — whether at the federal or provincial level — to make defendants pay all their legal costs but not require the same of complainants.

The initial complaint was made under paragraph 44(3) in the Canadian Human Rights Act, which forbids distribution of material that is likely to expose people to hatred or contempt based on their sexual orientation. The complainant had argued that, over a period of several years, Catholic Insight had done just that in its fight against the normalization of homosexual practices.

The magazine's editor, Fr. Alphonse de Valk, C.S.B., argued that the magazine's opposition to homosexuality never strayed from the teachings of the Catholic Church, which forbid homosexual sex but also oppose undue discrimination against homosexuals, while calling for them to be treated with respect and compassion.

The magazine is calling on its supporters to help it financially to battle the appeal.

“We will be obliged once again to engage more of our time and finances to defend against what can be seen as harassment by a person or persons unhappy with Catholic Insight's editorial stance in opposition to same-sex marriage and the resulting drive for equality of the homosexual lifestyle in schools and elsewhere,” the magazine's release said. “It is frankly astonishing that more Canadians do not recognize the negative impact such complainants have on what should be the expression of ideas in our current culture.”

The complaint against Catholic Insight mirrors other recent battles before human rights tribunals between publications and offended parties. The cases have sparked a call to amend human rights laws to prevent cases that involve freedom of speech and the press.

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