Molnar human rights hearing postponed

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
June 10th, 2010

The case before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against Les and Susan Molnar of Grand Forks has been delayed. Ronald Smith, attorney for the Molnars, said that the case, slated to be heard June 9 and 10 in Kelowna, was postponed when the representative for the complainants, Shaun Eadie and Brian Thomas, was taken ill.   Smith confirmed that the Molnars closed their River Bend Bed and Breakfast last fall as a result of this complaint.   “They are somewhat overwhelmed every time this comes out in the press, including this time. They get emails and threatening letters, nasty letters. So this is just too much for a retired couple who just want to run a quiet B & B in Grand Forks,” said Smith.   Even though the business has closed, the complaint has to be heard at the Tribunal. Smith said that the re-scheduling of the hearing many not be soon. “You have the schedules of the tribunal, plus two lawyers, plus complainants, plus respondents’ timetables to work out. So however we can work that out. I think everybody is anxious to go ahead. I think the complainant’s lawyer felt very badly that it could go ahead. So we’re all very anxious to have it done, it’s just a matter of the dates to do it.”   According to the complainants, Shaun Eadie and Brian Thomas, the Molnars refused them a room at their bed and breakfast home in June, 2009. On Mar. 3, 2010, the Tribunal heard Molnars’ application for dismissal of the complaint but dismissed their request.   According to the tribunal’s reasons for decision document, provided by Tribunal Member Murray Geiger-Adams, Eadie contacted the Riverbend Bed and Breakfast operated by the Molnars to book a room. A few minutes after the booking, Les Molnar called Eadie back and asked whether Eadie and Thomas were a gay couple. Eadie advised that they were, and Molnar replied, “Then this is not going to work out,” according to Eadie.   After the second phone call there was no further discussion between the parties before Eadie and Thomas filed their complaint. The report said that Molnar acknowledges they denied the complainants accommodation because “to allow a gay couple to share a bed in my Christian home would violate my Christian beliefs and cause me and my wife great distress.” Molnar further described that by allowing a gay couple to stay at his home he would be “encouraging something which I believe to be wrong according to my religious beliefs and understanding of scripture.”   Geiger-Adams stated that his duty was only to address the request for dismissal from the respondents and not to make any decision on the issue of discrimination.  

Geiger-Adams was unable to dismiss the claim. “The respondents appear to concede that denying accommodation to a gay couple, when that specific accommodation would be available to a heterosexual couple, is discriminatory on the basis of sexual orientation. If the complainants can prove the facts they allege, and in the absence of a defence or non-discriminatory explanation from the respondents, they will have established, a nexus between a prohibited ground of discrimination and the negative treatment alleged, and thus a contravention of the Code.”  

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