Calgary Roman Catholic Bishop Fred Henry has had a human rights complaint waged against him by EGALE for writing these words in a pastoral letter:
Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the State must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good.
He repeated much of the contents of this pastoral letter in his January 30th Calgary Sun column, which omitted this sentence.
EGALE stated that while Henry is free to state the views of this church:
Henry crossed the line when he talked about governments using their power to curtail homosexuality.
One may dispute Henry’s position and consider it a poor and dangerous use of government power. One might also consider government coercion an infringement of human rights. But is uttering this opinion an infringement of human rights? I don’t think so. Nor do I think it whips up anti-gay sentiment. The only sentiment it does whip up is the desire of legal activists to make names for themselves.
Henry unfortunately failed to specify what forms of coercion should be taken. Worst case scenario: police busting down the doors of the elderly gay couple in the condo down the street. But what about closing down the bathhouse that’s a breeding ground for drugs and prostitution (not to mention people failing to disclose one has HIV – an indictable offense (warning: content)? Henry is also heir to an older tradition of viewing coercion as a form of teaching, which might include wanting the state to persuade the public that homosexuality is a vice.
One can reasonably disagree with any of these propositions. However, does uttering them constitute a human rights violation? EGALE draws a dubious distinction between Henry’s legitimate (in their eyes) representation of his church’s viewpoint, and “crossing the line” to promote coercion. What if his church’s position is identical with that of the Canadian state 35 years ago – that homosexuality is a crime? Does advocating a belief once held by the Canadian government a crime?
I’m afraid this is a much anticipated consequence of the radical left’s constitutionalizing of same-sex marriage. “It’s the Charter, Stupid” means that those who dissent get pounded by a legion of human rights lawyers.
The Alberta Human Rights Commission says only 5% of complaints get heard by the Commission. Let’s hope that Henry’s isn’t one of them.