By Hilary White

OTTAWA, May 30, 2008 ( – A spokesman for the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) has refused to say whether Christian moral opposition to homosexual activity constitutes a “hate crime”.

Pete Vere, a Catholic writer who has been working on the clashes between the Human Rights Commissions and Christians, asked Mark van Dusen, a media spokesman for the CHRC, “If one, because of one’s sincerely held moral beliefs, whether it be Jew, Muslim, Christian, Catholic, opposes the idea of same-sex marriage in Canada, is that considered ‘hate’?”

van Dusen replied, “We investigate complaints, Mr. Vere, we don’t set public policy or moral standards. We investigate complaints based on the circumstances and the details outlined in the complaint. And …if…upon investigation, deem that there is sufficient evidence, then we may forward the complaint to the tribunal, but the hate is defined in the Human Rights Act under section 13-1.”

“Our job is to look at it, compare it to the act, to accumulated case law, tribunal and court decisions that have reflected on hate and decide whether to advance the complaint, dismiss it or whether there is room for a settlement between parties.”

Currently, two Christian organizations have Human Rights Commission complaints leveled at them for their outspoken defence, one in the political realm and the other in print, of the meaning of natural marriage and Christian sexual morality.

Homosexual activist Rob Wells, a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Pride Center of Edmonton, filed a nine-point complaint last February with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in which he accuses the magazine of promoting “extreme hatred and contempt” against homosexuals. The commission is investigating a similar case initiated by Wells against the Christian Heritage Party, a political party co-founded by pro-life Catholics and Protestants.  The party holds that marriage can only exist between one man and one woman.

Vere quoted Father Alphonse de Valk, the founder and editor of Catholic Insight, in an article on Zenit Catholic news agency.  Fr. de Valk said that Catholic Insight “bases itself on the Church’s teaching and applies it to various circumstances in our time.” He noted that some of the statements that allegedly promoted hatred and contempt against homosexuals were taken from recent Vatican pronouncements.

The issue before the CHRC, therefore, is whether Christian and Catholic teaching itself is considered under Canadian law to be “hate speech”.

Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary said the issue is whether Christians can continue to maintain their freedom of religious expression. Bishop Henry has also been through an Alberta HRC complaint by homosexual activists in 2005 after publishing a pastoral letter defending the traditional definition of marriage earlier that same year.

“I really feel that we are into a crisis situation here where we are experiencing a trumping of religious freedom,” said Bishop Henry.

Despite assurance from politicians that Canadian faith communities would not be affected when the government legalized same-sex marriage, the number of complaints against Christians have significantly increased since 2005.

Bishop Henry feels that Canada’s human rights tribunals are censoring the expression of traditional Christian teaching: “The social climate right now is that we’re into a new form of censorship and thought control, and the commissions are being used as thought police.”