Friday, October 6, 2006

Gay rights and religious freedom face a same-sex showdown in Canada

A proposed Tory [Conservative Party] bill that would provide protection to officials and churches who refuse to perform same-sex marriages underlines a growing conflict between gay rights and religious freedom. Across the country there are a number of cases in which religious views critical of homosexuality are clashing with the human rights demands of gays and lesbians.

In Manitoba, marriage commissioners who didn't want to marry same-sex couples because of their faith have been forced to resign, and a Catholic men's group came under fire for refusing to rent its hall to lesbians for their wedding. In Ontario, a printer ran into trouble when he refused to print pro-gay brochures.

''These instances are continuing to multiply, and it suggests we have a problem of how to incorporate same-sex rights into our existing human rights regime,'' Ontario lawyer Peter Lauwers said Thursday.

Lauwers, who has represented the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the same-sex marriage issue, said the courts will have to settle the conflict if politicians don't first act through legislation. ''There is no question that there are competing tensions and they need to be sorted out.'' [....snip] Winnipeg Free Press

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