Catholic parish hall refusing to host Pride week event will face Human Rights Tribunal

Catholic parish hall refusing to host Pride week event will face Human Rights Tribunal

When “bake the cake, you bigot” becomes “give us a place to eat the cake, too.” 

An adjudicator has ruled that a British Columbia Catholic parish hall should face a human rights investigation for failing to host a “Love Is Love” Pride week fundraiser. The fundraiser had previously been held in a secular Elks Hall and featured same sex dancing and drag performances.  

According to a Blacklock’s article, 

The White Rock, B.C. Pride Society in 2019 filed a human rights complaint after the local Star of the Sea Parish refused to rent its hall for a Pride Week dinner and dance. The hall is located nine feet from a Catholic church, and had previously been rented to Boy Scouts, the Kiwanis Club, Canadian Coast Guard and organizers of blood donor clinics. 

“Religious centres must be allowed to exist as protected spaces both for the faithful and the religious institutions that serve them who can rest assured their space is not being used for purposes which are contrary to the moral teachings of their faith,” lawyers for the Archdiocese of Vancouver wrote the Tribunal. The Archdiocese noted the Pride Week event included “drag performances”. 

“This proposed use is contrary to the practices, teachings and morals of the Catholic faith as the purpose of Pride and the dinner and dance fundraising event is to encourage and support a homosexual lifestyle,” church lawyers wrote in a 2019 email to the White Rock Pride Society. 

Kathleen Smith, adjudicator with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, wrote in her decision that the dispute requires the benefit of a full hearing: 

“There are significant facts and issues in dispute. The case is complicated however by the fact the parish makes a part of its space available to those outside of its Catholic community.” 

No date for the hearing has been set.  

This same BC human rights tribunal has a history of making decision contrary to the religious freedom of the Catholic Church, previously ruling against the Knights of Columbus of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia when the Catholic fraternal order declined to host a lesbian wedding reception in 2005.