LANGLEY (NEWS 1130) – Trinity Western University says it’s disappointed with a Supreme Court of Canada decision, that has ruled law societies around the country can refuse to give accreditation to graduates from TWU’s proposed law school in Langley.
The top court says the societies need to protect the values of equality and human rights in carrying out their functions.
At issue was TWU’s community covenant banning students from having sex outside heterosexual marriage.
In a pair of keenly anticipated decisions, the high court says law societies in Ontario and British Columbia were entitled to ensure equal access to the bar and prevent harm to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students.
The cases pitted two significant societal values — freedom of religion and promotion of equality — against one another.
In a statement, the evangelical Christian University says the decision “diminishes the value of pluralistic diversity in Canada”
“We feel this is a lost opportunity for Canadians, many of whom do not have affordable access to justice,” Earl Phillips, executive director of TWU’s proposed law school, says in a release. “There are only three common law schools in Canada that offer a course in charity law. The TWU law school would have offered a specialty in charity law. Because Canada has the second largest charitable and non-profit sector in the world, this loss stands to impact Canadians coast to coast.”
Ruling on TWU law school — "The appeal from the judgment of the Court of Appeal for British Columbia is allowed with costs. The resolution of the Law Society of British Columbia to declare that Trinity Western University’s proposed law school not be approved is restored."
— Mike Lloyd (@llikemoyd) June 15, 2018
Earlier today, assistant law professor Kathryn Chan at the University of Victoria expected it to be a precedent-setting ruling.
“Clearly this issue of how we are going to balance religious freedom and equality is important,” she tells NEWS 1130.
“It also touched on the issue of the extent to which religious institutions can make their way into the public sphere, for lack of a better term, before they have to abide by public norms, such as equality norms.”
Before the decision, the Evangelical Christian university had hoped to start accepting law students in BC by next year.
Supreme Court rules in favour of law societies in the Trinity Western law school case. Finds the covenant students had to sign that they would abstain from sex outside heterosexual marriage is discriminatory #cdnpoli
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) June 15, 2018