A Christian entrepreneur completed his appeal to a Toronto court yesterday to overturn a $5,000 fine for refusing to do business with a homosexual organization.
Scott Brockie, owner of a Toronto printing company, insists that he rejected a request by the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives in 1996 to print promotional materials for the group because it conflicted with his Christian beliefs.
A ruling on Brockie’s appeal by the Ontario Divisional Court will be made in a few months.
On Feb. 24, 2000, the Ontario Human Rights Commission found Brockie guilty of discriminating against homosexuals, according to its code. A board of inquiry appointed under the Ontario Human Rights Code ordered Brockie to pay damages, although it accepted that his beliefs were sincerely held.
The board contended that “it is reasonable to limit Brockie’s freedom of religion in order to prevent the very real harm to members of the lesbian and gay community.” The board added that “Brockie remains free to hold his religious belief and practice them in his home and in his Christian community.”
The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives is a Toronto-based public advocacy group that serves as a clearinghouse of information about homosexuals and their role in society.
Brockie has the support of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and a coalition of several Christian groups. The Canadian Religious Freedom Alliance, comprised of the Catholic Civil Rights League, the Christian Legal Fellowship and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, intervened for Brockie in court this week.
The alliance argued that people in business are not obligated to offer their services to a cause they cannot endorse, particularly for religious reasons. Brockie has clients who are gay, according to his supporters, but is unwilling to participate in homosexual activism.
A panel of three judges “questioned both sides hard, so it’s not all clear what the outcome will be,” said Janet Epp Buckingham, legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. “Our lawyer indicated it is impossible to call.”