- The Washington Times - Monday, September 23, 2002

Gwen Landolt doesn't want Montreal to host the Gay Games in 2006.
So Mrs. Landolt, national vice president of Real Women of Canada, joined forces with several other conservative groups to voice opposition, forming the No Committee 2006. The donations started arriving, and the committee decided to open an account with Royal Bank of Canada.
But when committee members approached RBC, the bank froze them out like a Quebec January.
The reason: the group's "stated opposition to the sexual orientation of the people who would be participating" in the Games, according to a June 18 letter from the bank.
Banks, the pillar of any economy, are not known for taking ideological stances. From Switzerland to Swaziland, whoever makes a deposit receives a bank's services, and rarely are customers refused on philosophical grounds.
But the No Committee claims it is the subject of viewpoint discrimination.
"Royal Bank is looking out for the homosexual community, but it's obvious that those people who are pro-life and pro-family don't count to them," Mrs. Landolt says.
An RBC official said the bank declined service because the No Committee was trying to keep homosexuals out of Canada. The company states that such actions violate both Canadian law and the company's own nondiscrimination policy.
"It's illegal for groups to use accounts for fund raising to incite discrimination," says David Moorcroft, an RBC senior vice president. "They're trying to prevent a group of people from assembling in our free society based on their sexual orientation. You can say, 'Homosexuality is wrong.' That's different from saying, 'Homosexuals can't come to Montreal.'"
Mrs. Landolt calls the idea that her group is trying to prevent homosexuals from visiting Canada "preposterous."
"It's the Gay Games that we object to," she says, adding that the committee is concerned for public health because the Canadian government is suspending regulations to allow HIV-positive homosexuals into the country for the event.
The No Committee claims the Gay Games will promote homosexuality, "increase the incidence of AIDS" and financially drain the city.
RBC has supported events organized by homosexual groups, including the 2000 Gay Life and Style show in Toronto. The RBC Investments site lists nine homosexual organizations that the company has sponsored.
The No Committee said RBC also squashed a resolution proposed by two of its shareholders early this year. The resolution stated that the bank would accept customers regardless of religious, political or ideological leanings. The bank's president drew heavily on proxy votes to defeat the motion, Mrs. Landolt says.
Although the No Committee has been fighting the Gay Games since May 2001, the Quebec Human Rights Commission found the committee was not discriminating against homosexuals.
Canada's federal human rights commission has ruled that both sexual orientation and religion are protected from discrimination, leaving the No Committee uncertain where to go next.
"What do you do when a government body, appointed to prevent discrimination, decides to discriminate against you?" Mrs. Landolt says. "It rather boxes one in."
Mrs. Landolt is concerned that viewpoint discrimination could spread.
"The question is," she says, "will [Royal Bank] discriminate against Americans who oppose homosexuality?"
While RBC has a significant number of U.S. affiliates, Mr. Moorcroft says, the Canadian decision won't have an effect outside the country.
The U.S. branch of Focus on the Family has its own tale of banking woe. When Focus asked Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh to handle a charitable annuities account in 1999, the bank told the Colorado Springs group to look elsewhere, citing conflicts with the group's mission statement.
"In essence, Mellon executives rejected our overtures because of our alleged views about homosexuality," said Tom Mason, executive vice president of Focus on the Family.
James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family and a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host, brought the bank's actions to the attention of his audience. Angry listeners swamped Mellon's phone lines.
Ten days later, the bank reversed its decision, saying it would "consider" a business relationship if Focus on the Family didn't expect the bank to change its nondiscrimination policy.


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