November 8, 2016
Trinity Western University, an evangelical Christian university based in British Columbia, won a legal victory that puts them one step closer to opening a law school.
The Appeal Court of B.C. released a unanimous decision in favour of the university on Tuesday, November 1. The court stated that the British Columbia law society’s efforts to deny accreditation to Trinity Western law graduates is “unreasonable”. All 5 judges on the appeal panel stated that the negative impact on the university’s religious freedoms would be severe and outweigh the “minimal effect” accreditation would have on LGBTQ rights.
The legal dispute started over Trinity Western University’s code of conduct that bans students from having sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage. The Law Society argued that this rule discriminates against gays and lesbians who want to enter the legal profession. However, the Appeal Court found that denying approval to the university would not enhance access to law school for members of the LGBTQ community and that creating 60 new law school seats would divert some law school hopefuls from other programs, therefore increasing the number of seats available to LGBTQ applicants overall.
The judgment officially states that “a society that does not admit of and accommodate differences cannot be a free and democratic society – one in which its citizens are free to think, to disagree, to debate and to challenge the accepted view without fear of reprisal.” It also stated that the case overall “demonstrates that a well-intentioned majority acting in the name of tolerance and liberalism can, if unchecked, impose its views on the minority in a manner that is in itself intolerant and illiberal.”
B.C. Law Society spokeswoman Vinnie Yueng said in a written statement that Appeal Court decision “added another dimension to an already complex issue”. She also said that the society would review the ruling before considering next steps.
This isn’t the first time that Trinity Western University has faced push back on its “push for recognition” in the legal community. The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal denied the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society’s efforts to prevent the law school’s graduates from receiving accreditation. However, Ontario’s Appeal court upheld the ruling against Trinity Western, denying recognition to the university’s future law graduates.
Read more about this case on the CTV News website.
Story and featured image source: CTV News