Catholic World News News Feature
Human rights complaint filed against Canadian bishop March 31, 2005
A supporter of same-sex marriage is using the human rights process in Canada to take away Bishop Frederick Henry's right to freedom of religion and free speech, supporters of the bishop said on Wednesday. They said proponents of same-sex marriage want to use intimidation to silence the Catholic Church on the issue.
Bishop Frederick Henry wrote a letter to the Catholics in his Calgary diocese in January outlining the Church's opposition to same-sex marriages. Bishop Henry called on Catholics to talk to their political representatives and express their opposition to legislation to change the definition of marriage to allow persons of the same sex to marry. A complaint filed with the Alberta Human Rights Commission alleges that Bishop Henry's letter discriminates against homosexuals.
Bishop Henry filed a response to the complaint on March 29 saying in part: "My rights to freedom of religion and free speech have been violated. Those that support same-sex marriage want to shut the churches out of this important debate. Those who favor same-sex marriage have been given full opportunity to state their views on this issue. But now they are saying that anyone who speaks out against same-sex marriage is discriminating against homosexuals."
Bishop Henry points out that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are important rights too. They are fundamental to Canadian democracy. Bishop Henry said he feels compelled to stand up for these fundamental rights on behalf of all religions in Canada.
In comments to LifeSiteNews.com, Bishop Henry noted, "If the Human Rights complaint is successful, it will prevent me from expressing my views and the position of the Roman Catholic Church. It prevents me and other Church leaders from speaking out freely in opposition to same-sex marriage. It also prevents me from outlining the position of the Roman Catholic Church to those who attend church in my diocese."
Marie Riddle, the director of the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, told LifeSiteNews.com that the complaint could not be discussed publicly since it has not reached the panel stage. She noted that complaints are usually handled by conciliation or mediation by commission staff. If unsuccessful, the commission proceeds to an investigation. If the commission does not believe there is a contravention of the Human Rights code the complaint is dismissed. If mediation has not been successful and the commission believes there has been a contravention the matter is sent before a panel for adjudication.