A tribunal dismissed allegations as hearsay that members of a group uttered homophobic and anti-Semitic remarks.
The said statements led to the organization getting expelled from a Vancouver pub.
The Free Speech Club Ltd. booked an event at the Devil’s Elbow Ale and Smoke House.
During the September 6, 2019 gathering, the pub manager asked the free speech club members to leave.
The establishment claimed that members of the group made Nazi salutes, and anti-Jewish and homophobic statements, upsetting staff and other guests.
The club filed a claim before the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal, asking for a refund of its $315 deposit.
The pub countered that the booking was made not by the club, but by the club’s executive director Angelo Isidorou.
Hence, the establishment argued, it should not refund the club.
Tribunal chair Shannon Salter disagrees with the Devil’s Elbow pub position.
“Mr. Isidorou argues, and I agree, that he booked the pub on the club’s behalf as its executive director,” Salter wrote in her reasons for decision ordering the pub to refund the club.
As to the alleged homophobic and anti-Semitic remarks, Salter noted that the only evidence were statements by Paul Jacobs, principal of the Devil’s Elbow pub.
Jacobs was not present at the event.
“Instead, he heard about it when a staff member called him to report the allegations,” Salter related. “Mr. Jacobs says he instructed the pub manager to have the club members leave.”
Jacobs did not name the manager, nor provide details about what the club members were alleged to have said or done.
“While the CRT’s evidentiary rules are flexible, I do not accept Mr. Jacobs’ hearsay evidence, which is vague and comes from an unnamed source,” Salter wrote.
Salter noted that there is also no evidence “from any of the staff members or guests who were said to have been upset by the club members’ conduct”.
Isidorou denied that that any of the club members made anti-Semitic or homophobic comments or gestures.
The club provided several written statements, including that of its president, identified only as NA.
“NA states that he is both Jewish and homosexual and found this curious,” Salter noted.
In his statement, NA also “describes in significant detail his lifelong relationship with Judaism, including attending religious services regularly, attending Jewish day school and summer camps and consistently advocating on behalf of Jewish issues”.
“He states, and I accept, that he felt disgusted to have the pub’s accusations levelled against his club,” Salter wrote.
NA’s statement was supported by others, including two rabbis.
The statements “consistently describe NA as a devoted member of the Jewish community, a social justice advocate, and someone who has never promoted anti-Semitic or other hateful views”.
“While NA was only one attendee, I find it is unlikely that as club president he would have tolerated anti-Semitic or homophobic statements or gestures at the event,” Salter wrote.