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Letter to Ontario's Attorney General expressing concern about allowing public officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples

December 20, 2004

Toronto - I am writing to express concern over recent comments attributed to the Honourable Irwin Cotler urging provinces to allow public officials who are licensed to perform marriage ceremonies to refuse to perform this service for same-sex couples. As you know, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) intervened in the Same Sex Marriage Reference before the Supreme Court of Canada to protect the right of gay and lesbian Canadians to get married. In this regard, the Commission agreed with the Attorney General of Canada’s position that requiring a religious official to perform a marriage ceremony that does not accord with his or her religious beliefs about marriage would violate section 2(a) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”).

Commission calls for increased vigilance

September 10, 2002

Toronto - Chief Commissioner Keith Norton today reiterated a call for increased vigilance and the need to strike a balance between protecting human rights and maintaining public security. Reflecting on the first anniversary of the tragic events of last September 11th, Mr. Norton stated, "Although we would like to believe that tolerance has become part of our core values, regrettably, incidents of hate and discrimination towards certain community members of our society in the aftermath of last year’s events underline an ongoing need for vigilance."

"Compassion, justice and a renewal of our pledge against hatred should mark this day of mourning", says Chief Commissioner Keith Norton

September 14, 2001

Toronto - Commenting on the horrible tragedy of September 11th, the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Mr Keith Norton, issued a call to civic, religious and community leaders "to jointly take leadership in the fight against hatred and to be vigilant against any backlash which might be directed against innocent persons or communities. It is surely time for a show of solidarity, especially among our major religious groups, to affirm that acts of violence motivated by hate are not justified by the teachings of any faith."

Policy on creed and the accommodation of religious observances

October 1996 - Creed is a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Code. Every person has the right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods, facilities, employment, the occupancy of accommodation, the right to enter into contracts and the right to join trade unions or other vocational associations, without discrimination because of creed. These policy guidelines set out the position of the OHRC with respect to creed and the accommodation of religious observances related to a person's creed.

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