The 5th group obtained intervenor status in the discrimination hearing between the Pride society and the local parish


A human rights complaint between a pride society and a local Catholic parish has now spread to five different organizations acting as interveners.

In June 2019, the White Rock Pride Society filed a human rights complaint against Star of the Sea Parish in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver.

Since then, five different groups have applied for and have been approved for intervenor status, the latest being the Canadian Secular Alliance (CSA), an organization that seeks to advance the separation of state and religion. , as well as the neutrality of the government in matters of religion.

The role of an intervener in a human rights tribunal is to help the tribunal member make their decision by providing context to the argument, adding different perspectives and helping them understand the impact that the court ruling could have on the individuals and groups involved.

Although intervener requests are standard practice at the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, a quick review of the case law over the past five years reveals that only five other complaints have been approved and none of them have been approved. they had five or more speakers.

Allegations of discrimination

In 2019, White Rock Pride Society President Ernie Klassen attempted to rent a venue at the Star of the Sea Community Center to host a fundraising dinner and dance for a camp that supports LGBT youth.

Klassen’s request was denied and he was told that the Pride Society did not match the values ​​of the Catholic Church.

In the complaint, Klassen alleged that members of the company had been discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation.

The parish attempted to have the complaint dismissed, but a tribunal member denied the request, stating that the parish failed to establish that the complaint had no reasonable chance of success.

5 speakers

The complaint is expected to be heard in January 2022, but the list of stakeholders continues to grow.

Earlier this week, the Canadian Lay Alliance (CSA) joined the previously approved list of speakers, which included the BC Humanist Association, the Canadian Center for Christian Charities, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Christian Legal Fellowship.

Ernie Klassen says the ward’s decision not to rent the hall to his organization for a pride event is discriminatory. (Nic Amaya / CBC)

The CSA argued that it would assist the court by making specific arguments regarding the parish’s defense that it had good faith reasonable justification (BFRJ) not to rent the hall to the company.

A BRFJ is a defense available to respondents under the Human Rights Code, provided they meet its requirements.

“There will be no prejudice to the parties and the intervention will not remove the problems from the parties,” the CSA said, according to the decision.

The company accepted the intervention, however, the parish opposed it.

“The proposed submissions are irrelevant and would broaden and unnecessarily confuse the appropriate scope of the hearing,” argued the parish.

“The CSA lacks relevant experience, has no vested interest in these proceedings and their observations and perspectives will not assist the Tribunal.

Stakeholder status approved

When examining a request, the tribunal member must determine whether the intervener is likely to make a useful contribution.

The CSA argued in its request that it had a real interest in the case to ensure that “religious actors do not receive any special treatment or preference under the law, including when the BFRJ test is applied to them. “.

He added that his submission would be from a secular perspective.

Tribunal member Kathleen Smith ultimately approved the company’s request, agreeing that how the BRFJ test is applied is a matter specific to this case, including what constitutes reasonable accommodation where there are competing rights. .


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