Human Rights Tribunal Rules Gay Couple Discriminated Against
VANCOUVER, B.C., CANADA -- In a decision issued Tuesday, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled that a Mennonite couple discriminated against a gay couple from Vancouver by refusing them accommodation in their Grand Forks bed-and-breakfast.
During the tribunal hearing last fall regarding the case, the B&B owners Les and Susan Molnar argued that they were exercising their rights to religious freedom under the Canadian Charter, their belief being that sex outside of marriage is morally wrong, they also argued that it is their belief that marriage is solely between between a man and a woman. During their testimony, the couple stated that these arguments were their justification for denying the gay couple accommodation thus avoid permitting homosexual relations in their home.
The tribunal disagreed and awarded Brian Thomas and Shaun Eadie about $4,500 in damages and expenses, ruling that the Molnars had "subjected them to indignity and humiliation by turning them away in 2009, based on their sexual orientation." The tribunal ruled that, "as the Molnars operated their bed and breakfast as a business, they were required to comply with the laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."
Speaking to CBC, Brian Thomas said that the ruling was a “resounding and dramatic decision for us. We’re very happy,” Thomas said adding, “It hopefully sets a precedent for people to feel empowered to fight discrimination face on.”
Thomas and Eadie — testifying that they have been engaged are in a long-standing relationship — argued it was not a case of competing rights, but a simple case of discrimination.
The Molnars were operating a business that was specifically modified to function as a bed-and-breakfast and was subject to provincial laws, the gay couple argued.
The tribunal agreed, finding that the Molnars voluntarily set up a business in their home and “like other business people, were required to comply with the laws of the province, including ... quasi-constitutional legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
Tribunal member Enid Marion wrote: “While the business was operated by individuals with sincere religious beliefs respecting same-sex couples, and out of a portion of their personal residence, it was still a commercial activity.” ~ CBC
The Molnars closed their B&B after the complaint against them was lodged and Les Molnar said the couple doesn't intend to reopen.
“I respect the [tribunal’s] ruling and we have no ill will toward the complainants, either before or after this hearing,” Molnar said.
Additional reporting provided by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation