CALGARY, March 30, 2005 ( – A supporter of same-sex marriage is using the human rights process to take away Bishop Frederick Henry’s right to freedom of religion and free speech. Despite the Catholic Church’s established role in preparing men and women for marriage and conducting religious marriage ceremonies between men and women, it appears that supporters of same-sex marriage do not want religious leaders to be part of the debate on this issue.Â

Bishop Frederick Henry wrote a letter to the Catholics in his Diocese in January, 2005 outlining the opposition of the Catholic Church to same-sex marriages (see coverage ). 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 same-sex to marry. A Complaint filed with the Alberta Human Rights Commission alleges that Bishop Henry’s letter discriminates against homosexuals.Â

Bishop Henry filed a response to the Complaint on March 29, 2005 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 favour 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 feels compelled to stand up for these fundamental rights on behalf of all religions in Canada.Â

In comments to 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 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.

To contact the commission or Alberta Premier Ralph Klein with your concerns:
[email protected]