Prisoner of conscience.Readers of Catholic Insight should beware: Anyone who steadfastly upholds the historic and true teaching of the Christian church on the grave depravity of homosexual acts could soon end up in jail as a prisoner of conscience Prisoner of conscience (POC) is a term coined by the human rights pressure group Amnesty International in the early 1960s. It can refer to anyone imprisoned because of their race, religion, color, language, sexual orientation, or belief, so long as they have not used or advocated .
Scott Brockie is well aware of the danger. He is the Toronto print shop owner who ran afoul of the Ontario Human Rights Commission The Ontario Human Rights Commission was established in the Canadian province of Ontario in 1961 to administer the Ontario Human Rights Code. The commission is an arm's length agency of government accountable to the legislature through the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario. for refusing to print materials for the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives is a non-profit organization in Canada, which archives materials relating to the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in Canada. . As an Evangelical Protestant, Brockie wishes the best for all people, including homosexuals, but simply cannot in good conscience print materials for any gay-rights organization.
The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal accepted that Brockie's religious convictions are honestly held, but found that his right to freedom of religion in this case was trumped by the right of homosexuals to equality under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (also known as The Charter of Rights and Freedoms or simply The Charter) is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. It forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982. . On this basis, the Tribunal directed Brockie to provide lesbians, gays and their organizations with the same printing services that he offers to other clients, and ordered him to pay Ray Brillinger, a former president of the Archives, $5,000 in "damages" for having unlawfully refused his print order.
Brockie appealed this decision, and lost. In a unanimous ruling on June 17, a three-judge panel of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice The Superior Court of Justice for Ontario, Canada is the successor to the former Ontario Court of Justice (General Division), and was created on April 19 1999. Its predecessor, the Ontario Court (General Division) was the result of the 1990 merger and discontinuance of the previous upheld the Tribunal ruling against him, subject only to the qualification that he can refuse to print materials for homosexuals that "could reasonably be considered to be in direct conflict with the core elements of (his) religious beliefs."
For Brockie, printing anything for the Archives would violate core elements of his religious beliefs. He feels the same way about the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League. What's next? Will some court contrive con·trive
v. con·trived, con·triv·ing, con·trives
1. To plan with cleverness or ingenuity; devise: contrive ways to amuse the children.
2. to find some pretence under the Charter for a ruling that a faithful Christian has no right to refuse a print order from an organization dedicated to destroying innocent human life?
As it is, Brockie has conceded defeat in the Archives case. Who can blame him? By standing firm and refusing to pay Brillinger $5,000 in damages, Brockie could have been found guilty of contempt of court and consigned to jail. And there he could have remained so long as he refused to obey the court's unjust order.
Anyone who thinks conscientious printers should defy the courts, by refusing to print letterheads for the Archives, the Toronto Leather/SM/Fetish Coming Out Group, or any other gay rights organization should beware of saying so in print. Under terms of section 13(1) of the Ontario Human Rights Code The Ontario Human Rights Code is a provincial law in the province of Ontario, Canada that gives all citizens of the province equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in specific areas such as jobs, housing and services. , it's an offence to publish or display before the public any notice that incites someone to infringe the right of anyone not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or any of 14 other grounds.
Granted, subsection 2 of section 13 provides that "Subsection (1) shall not interfere with freedom of expression of opinion." But that means nothing. A similar provision in the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code did not stop a tribunal in that province from ordering another Evangelical Protestant--Hugh Owens--to pay $4,500 in damages to three gay men who were offended by an advertisement he took out in the Saskatoon Saskatoon (săskətn`), city (1991 pop. 186,058), S central Sask., Canada, on the South Saskatchewan River. Star Phoenix that contained a pictograph pictograph - pictogram of two men holding hands superimposed su·per·im·pose
tr.v. su·per·im·posed, su·per·im·pos·ing, su·per·im·pos·es
1. To lay or place (something) on or over something else.
2. with a circle and slash--the symbol of something forbidden--as well as a list of Bible verses condemning the practice of homosexuality.
Owens is appealing this ruling. If he loses, he, too, could end up in jail as a prisoner of conscience, unless he is willing to pay damages to gays for expressing his Christian convictions on the sinfulness of sodomy.
The same fate threatens all Canadians who uphold the traditional principles of Judeo-Christian morality: anyone who so much as prints or publishes a statement opposing gay marriage now runs the risk of harassment by Canada's human rights police and their enforcers in the courts.
Ultimately, though, it's our cynical and craven politicians who are responsible for this travesty of justice. It's they who are allowing our masters in the courts to invoke Canada's so-called human rights codes and the misconceived mis·con·ceive
tr.v. mis·con·ceived, mis·con·ceiv·ing, mis·con·ceives
To interpret incorrectly; misunderstand.
mis Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a pretence for trampling upon the basic principles of freedom under law.
Rory Leishman lives in London, ON. His column appears every other issue.