BC’s Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed a complaint from anti-gay activist Kari Simpson alleging the lack of therapy for students “who suffer from homosexuality and other dysfunctional sexual orientations” is discriminatory.
“What you seek is to have the Tribunal proceed with a complaint that identifies homosexuality as a dysfunction, amounting to a disability,” Tribunal chair Heather MacNaughton told Simpson in her Jul 15 ruling.
“This view is incompatible with the jurisprudence and the purposes of the [provincial Human Rights Code], which include promoting a climate of understanding and mutual respect where all are equal in dignity and rights,” MacNaughton ruled.
Simpson alleged the public school counselling system discriminates against students who want to be straight.
Simpson’s documents say she filed the complaint on behalf of “those suffering a confused sexual orientation and/or dysfunctional homosexuality and/or those in need of sexual re-orientation therapy and/or those suffering from a sexual identity crisis.”
She filed the complaint against the BC Ministry of Education, the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) and gay activists Murray and Peter Corren.
But Simpson did not identify a group that can be clearly defined as being discriminated against, according to MacNaughton.
Nor did Simpson identify issues common to the group or class, notify that group or class about the action or give them the chance to opt out, or identify a way to keep group members informed of the complaint’s progress, MacNaughton ruled.
Simpson claims she has the authority to represent the group as a taxpayer and citizen of Canada, MacNaughton ruled. As those are the only connections Simpson claims, MacNaughton rejected that argument.
Simpson isn’t surprised. She told Xtra West the decision lays the groundwork for a case of systemic discrimination she now wants to lay against the Tribunal itself.
“They have conveniently assisted me greatly in this,” she says.
Gay education activist James Chamberlain alleges Simpson was attempting to twist the Code to suit her purposes. “It’s a perversion of the Human Rights Code,” he says. “The Human Rights Tribunal was right in denying this challenge.”
He says the BCTF and both the Canadian and American psychiatric associations have discounted reparative therapy.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality as a mental illness from its Diagnostic and Statistical manual in 1973.
In 1997 it produced a Fact Sheet on Homosexual and Bisexual Issues which states there is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of reparative therapy as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation.
“Simpson [is] 40 years behind the times in thinking we’re sick and need to be cured,” Chamberlain says.
Gay educator Glen Hansman applauds the Tribunal decision. He says the merits of Simpson’s complaint were never made clear.
“We have a responsibility in schools to have the door open to every student,” he says. “The last thing the schools should be doing is promoting restorative therapy. It would undermine all the work we have been doing to promote inclusivity.”
It is not the first time Simpson has lost in court in recent months.Her attempt to re-open a libel suit against a former Vancouver radio host was dismissed in BC Supreme Court in February.
That case stems from an Oct 25, 1999 broadcast in which commentator Rafe Mair criticized Simpson for her work to ban three gay-friendly books from Surrey schools.
Simpson helped write and promote a Declaration of Family Rights, which asserted that children should not be exposed to any teaching which “portrays the lifestyle of gays . . . as one which is normal, acceptable or must be tolerated.”
Mair compared Simpson to Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan, saying her conduct at a Surrey parents’ meeting reminded him of speeches from his childhood by “bigots who with increasing shrillness would harangue the crowds.”
Simpson sued both Mair and the WIC Radio network for defamation.
A BC Supreme Court judge ruled that while Mair’s comments were defamatory, he was within his right of fair comment.
That decision was overturned in 2006 by the BC Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court of Canada’s Jun 27, 2008 ruling reaffirmed Mair’s right to fair comment — a decision that broadened the defence used by journalists against libel actions.
Simpson applied to the BC Supreme Court to reopen the case on the grounds that her lawyer in the first case had not presented all the necessary facts to the court.
Simpson has pledged to continue that fight which she says has cost about $600,000 to date.