The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled on a case involving the proposed Trinity Western University law school. The Surpreme Court ruled 7-2 that the pitted religious freedom against LGBT rights. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Supreme Court rules against Christian university law school

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Religious freedom vs civil rights

Trinity Western University (TWU) is an independent evangelical Christian university in British Columbia. As a requirement for students, they must agree not to engage in sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage. The “Community Covenant” is mandatory at the school.

The university wants to open a law school, but the law societies of both British Columbia and Ontario said they would not recognize the school or graduates. They recognize the educational standards for the law school, but reject the requirements of this covenant.

The case went to court pitting overlapping section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that of freedom of religion, and civil rights, particularly in this case lesbian, gay, bisexual individuals, and even heterosexuals in common law couples.

The university challenged the law societies, winning their case in B.C courts, but losing in Ontario’s court. It was then that the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

The two provincial law societies said that Trinity Western’s covenant discriminates against LGBT people.

The Supreme Court ruled that the covenant could harm LGBT students dignity, self-confidence, along with stigmatisation and isolation at the school.

They took into account the idea of religious freedom meaning individuals have the right to practice their religion, and for groups to form religious communities. But the SCC also ruled the law societies did have the right to their position noting that the provincial regulating bodies had an overarching interest in protecting human rights, and that they had the right to ensure equal access to the bar by supporting equality and preventing harm to LGBT students

There were two dissenting votes in the nine member SCC decision however. Those judges argued that the law society only had the right to determine if TWU would competently educate students, which it apparently would do.

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5 comments on “Supreme Court rules against Christian university law school
  1. Avatar Christopher Saunders says:

    Do not Christians have the same legal rights? Can they not attend a school where they will be comfortable attending with others of like Christian values and practices? If everyone at the school is following the same values there will be no harm done to anyone attending. These values are clearly stated and if you feel that you cannot uphold those values then there are many other schools that you can attend where you will fit in and be accepted. This school is not going out of their way to harm anyone that does not believe in their value system, they merely want the same rights as all the other self identifying groups. Why is it that every other group, other than the Christian group, must be shown acceptance? Why must Christians be thrown to the lions once more? Why can Christians not find the same acceptance that every other group demands?

    • Avatar Lawrence Dunnigan says:

      I don’t believe you read or understood this decision. The Supreme Court is not saying that Trinity Western cannot open a law school, nor are they saying that they must change their community covenant. What they are saying is that the covenant discriminates against LGBTQ students and because of that the law societies in question are within their rights to refuse accreditation. As for LGBTQ students being able to choose a different school, the court recognizes that this is not always possible or desirable. There are many LGBTQ persons that also identify as Christian even though they do not agree with the hardline evangelical definitions. All Trinity Western has to do is make the covenant optional or remove the discriminatory section and they will probably be accredited.

  2. Avatar Marie says:

    I am having trouble understanding the difference between (1) The government requires applicants for their Summer Jobs Grant to sign a “attestation” that the applicant supports the government’s value test, and (2) the Supreme Court of Canada is denying a university the right to have their law students admitted to the bar because students have to sign a value’s “covenant”. Is the signature of an “attestation” different from a “covenant”? I don’t understand. Where is the “balance”?

  3. Avatar Tom Hennessy says:

    In 1975 the special, LBGTQ sexual orientation human rights, were granted as a result of crime.
    At the time of ‘winning special rights for sexual orientation’, a person was not allowed to be a practicing member of the psychiatric profession and be a homosexual.
    It was illegal, but due to criminal collusion, criminal conspiracy and fraud, the laws were changed.
    “Before that time, all lesbians and gays were considered sick—pathologic.”
    “81 Words”
    “Spitzer was astounded to find standing at the bar several heads of university psychiatry departments, well known researchers, and the man in charge of dispensing federal grants to psychiatric training programs. All were closeted gay men”

    The whole process was illegal.

    In the seventies, homosexuality was made legal, by criminal means.
    During the process, the vote to make homosexuality legal, there existed a group of Psychiatric doctors who were illegally practicing medicine.
    The laws at the time disallowed homosexuals to be Psychiatrista, it was simply illegal.
    These doctors criminally conspired, colluded and committed fraud, collecting monies they were not legally allowed and treated patients illegally.
    They corrupted and usurped our laws to have themselves declared ‘normal’.

    When the laws were being bandied about, one argument against the legalizaton of homosexuality was, ‘they’ll flock to Boy Scouts, daycares and schools’.

    Now a mere fifty years later, what do we have?
    The Girl Scout board of directors is three quarters lesbian and we have what is known as the ‘Rainbow Curriculum’ and your children being taken away by law if you refuse to recognize homosexulaity as ‘normal’.

    We need a referendum with every citizen having a vote whether they believe homosexuality is normal or a medical disability, hormone misadventure.

  4. Avatar Peter Ashcroft says:

    The problem with protecting LGBT students from victimisation is not to overreach legal action by promoting this sexual variation.
    True neutrality should be the legal aim.