For immediate publication
Toronto - On February 24, a Board of Inquiry ordered Imaging Excellence, a printing company, and its owner, Scott Brockie, to provide printing services to gays and lesbians and their organizations and awarded damages of $5000 in total payable to Ray Brillinger and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, a customer of Imaging Excellence. In its earlier decision released on September 29th, 1999, the Board determined that Imaging Excellence and Mr. Brockie discriminated against Mr. Brillinger when it refused to provide printing services to the Archives.
The original complaint was filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission in the spring of 1996. Mr. Brillinger had asked Imaging Excellence and Mr. Brockie to print stationery for the organization. In refusing to provide printing services to the Archives, Mr. Brockie argued that it was against his religion and that this allowed him to deny these services. After trying to mediate a settlement, the Commission investigated the facts and sent the case to a public hearing at the Board of Inquiry in September of 1998.
At the Board hearing, Mr. Brockie argued that any order requiring him to provide services to gays and lesbians contravened his right to freedom of religion under section 2 of the Charter. The Board held that its ordering Mr. Brockie and Imaging Excellence to provide printing services to gays and lesbians and their organizations was a reasonable limit on Mr. Brockie’s religious beliefs under section 1 of the Charter.
The Board of Inquiry is an independent tribunal that hears complaints where the Commission has found enough evidence of a discriminatory practice to refer the subject matter of the complaint to the Board. The rulings of the Board are remedial and not punitive. They seek to compensate complainants for any wrongs they may have suffered and to prevent discriminatory practices from happening.
The Ontario Human Rights Code recognizes the dignity and worth of every person in Ontario without discrimination contrary to law. Its aim is the creation of a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person so that every citizen feels a part of the community. The right to equal treatment with respect to services is set out in Section 1 of the Code.
Chief Commissioner Keith Norton stated that, "It is important for every business in Ontario to know that when they offer services to the general public, they cannot exclude some clients on the grounds listed in the Human Rights Code, such as their race, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. The Code clearly prohibits discrimination in the provision of services, and this decision simply recognizes this important reality."
In 1998-99, complaints citing the ground of sexual orientation comprised 2% of all complaints filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Denial of service was alleged in one third of these complaints. Of the sixteen grounds cited under the Code, sexual orientation has the highest percentage where denial of service is alleged.
- 30 -