Toronto Alcoholics Anonymous Intergroup re-affirms right to inclusion, regardless of beliefs

TORONTO, Feb. 6, 2017 /CNW/ - "Anyone with the barest knowledge of recovery knows timely help is a matter of life and death," said Lawrence Knight.  Knight's struggle to list agnostic groups with the Toronto A.A. Intergroup ultimately led him to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

On January 18, 2017, representatives of the Greater Toronto Area Intergroup, Knight and A.A. World Services Inc. and the General Services Board of Alcoholic Anonymous Inc. met to formally resolve Knight's human rights claim.  Lawrence Knight is ecstatic. "This is huge.  There can be no doubts for A.A. chapters around the world - a desire to be sober really is the only requirement."

Knight and GTA Intergroup agree that it is not A.A.'s practice to exclude anyone, including A.A. groups, based on creed:  "All groups, regardless of their belief system form part of the A.A fellowship.  The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking and any two or more people who come together for the purpose of being sober may call themselves an A.A. group, as long as they have a desire to be sober, and provided they have no outside affiliation". 

GTA Intergroup has re-affirmed that any A.A. group in the Greater Toronto Area that acknowledges or adopts the suggested 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous can be recognized as a member of Intergroup with the right of representation on The Floor of Intergroup, regardless of how their members interpret and apply those steps in their own lives. 

Mr. Knight said, "Many groups, such as Chicago's Quad A have been running agnostic A.A. groups continuously for over 35 years acknowledging or adopting the traditional 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous and state unequivocally their membership is open to 'all people with a desire to stop drinking.  There are no further qualifiers or disqualifiers.'"

As noted on the Quad A web site, "The atheist, agnostic and freethinkers meetings function no differently than other A.A. meetings - allowing recovering alcoholics to gather on a regular basis as autonomous groups. We share and learn how to live sober and rewarding lives."

Given this understanding between the parties, the Greater Toronto Area Intergroup representatives have indicated the groups that were removed from the meeting lists in 2011 can be re-listed. 

Megan Evans Maxwell, Knight's lawyer from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, was "thrilled to support Larry's tenacity and passionate advocacy. There is no question in my mind.  What Larry did was save lives."

The Human Rights Legal Support Centre provides free legal assistance to people in communities across Ontario who have experienced discrimination contrary to Ontario's Human Rights Code.

GTA Intergroup is the body of Alcoholics Anonymous in The Greater Toronto Area that serves as a forum for discussion and a focus for cooperation and coordination among AA groups in the GTA in carrying the message of Alcoholics Anonymous to the suffering alcoholic. There are more than 117,700 A.A. groups around the world.

SOURCE Human Rights Legal Support Centre

For further information: Kate Sellar, Human Rights Legal Support Centre 416-597-4942, Mobile: 416-452-9506


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