Trinity Western University has lost its legal battle for a new evangelical Christian law school, with a Supreme Court of Canada ruling today that calls it “proportionate and reasonable” to limit religious rights in order to ensure open access for LGBT students.
In a pair of 7-2 rulings, the majority of justices found the law societies of British Columbia and Ontario have the power to refuse accreditation based on TWU’s so-called community covenant.
The mandatory agreement binds students to a strict code of conduct, including abstaining from sex outside of heterosexual marriage.
The majority judgment said the covenant would deter LGBT students from attending the proposed law school, and those who did attend would be at risk of significant harm.
It found the public interest of the law profession includes promoting equality by ensuring equal access, supporting diversity within the bar and preventing harm to LGBT students.
In the court’s view, the law societies were acting within their mandate in considering TWU’s admission policies in the accreditation process, also to ensure upholding a positive public perception of the legal profession.
“In our respectful view, the [law societies] decision not to accredit Trinity Western University’s proposed law school represents a proportionate balance between the limitation on the Charter right at issue and the statutory objectives the [law societies] sought to pursue,” it reads.
More to come