B.C. Christian law school approved despite anti-gay policy

Lawyers are launching a court challenge against the B.C. goverment's approval of Trinity Western University's law school

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      A Christian university with a policy that forbids same-sex intimacy has had its controversial bid to open a law school approved by the Law Society of British Columbia.

      On April 11, the Law Society of B.C. voted 20 to 6 in favour of accrediting graduates from TWU's proposed law school.

      Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., will begin accepting 60 students in 2015 and open the law school in September 2016.

      Opposition to the law school proposal, submitted to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada in June 2012, arose across the country from law schools, advocates, and more.

      At issue is TWU's community covenant, in which students must agree to abstain from "sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman", which would include homosexual sex as well as premarital or extramarital heterosexual sex, or else face discipline, expulsion, or refusal of admission.  

      Although same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005, the university excludes it from the terms of its covenant.

      The Federation of Law Societies of Canada granted the school preliminary approval on December 16.

      A group of five lawyers, with Vancouver Park Board commissioner Trevor Loke (who is an openly gay Christian who plans to attend law school) as plantiff, are launching a court challenge against the B.C. government for approving the law school. The lawyers will argue that the approval by the province's Minister of Advanced Education, Amrik Virk, on December 18 violates Charter rights regarding discrimination against sexual orientation.

      Virk said his decision was based on a review by the Degree Quality Assessment Board, a provincial ministry of education agency, and the approval by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. He stated that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom is outside the purview of his Ministry.

      "I find the Minister's endorsement of TWU's law school humiliating," Loke stated in a news release. 

      He argues that the Minister's mandate requires him to improve equal access for British Columbian law students.

      In the 1990s, the British Columbia College of Teachers barred the school from granting teaching degrees due to its homophobic policies. In 2001, TWU won a Supreme Court of Canada case which overturned the college's decision.

      The university claims it will be the first Christian university in Canada to open a law school. 

      Comments

      12 Comments

      cuz

      Apr 14, 2014 at 12:12pm

      Congratulations to TWU. They deserved this. Just because they ban same sex intimacy on their campus, doesn't mean their graduates will have any qualms about applying the law correctly in any cases they work on. Seems to me Trevor Loke and his buddies just want to cause grief to TWU. That's not a very christian approach. They should consider using their anger and self righteousness for a better endeavor, perhaps ensuring their lives are perfect before condemning others.

      David Gervais

      Apr 14, 2014 at 1:12pm

      At issue is equal treatment. If the policy were no sex before marriage for hetero- or homo- couples, with equal acceptability of after marriage sexuality, then the policy might be defensible. As it is, this is clearly illegal discriminatory treatment. This is an example of why equal marriage access in law is important.

      Considering that this is a law school, they are showing a poor understanding of the law.

      Rick in Richmond

      Apr 14, 2014 at 1:26pm

      Not so long ago, certain colleges in North America forbade admission to blacks, and women, and enforced a quota on Jews. Many also forbade inter-racial dancing, and inter-racial marriage. They did so on grounds of inviolable religious doctrine.

      As recently as 1978, the Mormons denied admission of blacks to their priesthood. Luckily, Mormon President Kimball had a 'revelation', and their doctrine was changed the next year. The immutable voice of God was more politically aware than previously thought possible. Whew!

      So it will be with Trinity Western. Their primitive prejudices will eventually fall to the power of decency, human inter-action, the Canadian principle of fairness, and the market reality that their law graduates will be largely unemployable.

      Who would hire a lawyer whose world-view starts with, "I despise you. As a TWU graduate, I find your very existence an affront to God. But for the right price, I will represent you anyway."

      Congratulations to TWU. They deserve this.

      tkemper

      Apr 14, 2014 at 3:38pm

      If fake Christians like Trevor Joke want to go to law school, there are plenty of other places they can go. TWU's policies don't affect Joke in any way, so he should just mind his own business.

      Good for TWU. Glad to see that in Canada the state still isn't allowed to stop people from practising their religion.

      Barry William Teske

      Apr 15, 2014 at 8:03am

      If your religion in its practice and belief denys human equality to any who choose not to believe in it then your religion is terrorism.

      RUK

      Apr 16, 2014 at 9:46am

      @tkemper

      Thank you for clarifying that Trevor, being gay, is a fake Christian.

      You are demonstrating the values, morals, and love that is driving the world to sensible disbelief in Sky Daddies.

      Robert

      Apr 17, 2014 at 8:59am

      @tkemper

      Practicing one's religion and seeking public approval a law school that discriminates under the guise of religion are entirely separate things.

      Alexis Klatt

      Apr 17, 2014 at 6:48pm

      Yet another reason why religion & politics do not mix!

      tkemper

      Apr 17, 2014 at 8:04pm

      @RUK Being gay isn't a sin. Indulging in sinful behaviour is. Using the threat of jail to force others to stop practising their religion, even when it doesn't affect you whatsoever, is. Also thank you for demonstrating the complete disrespect that atheists have for anyone who doesn't follow their belief system.

      tkemper

      Apr 17, 2014 at 8:13pm

      @Robert TWU is a religious institution as well as an academic institution. This concept is well established and has been accepted for hundreds of years. Your argument to separate the two is not valid.

      And the fact that homosexual acts are a sin is no "guise". It is written in black and white in the Bible.

      A few years ago a man tried to sue a woman's only gym because they wouldn't let him join. The courts decided that because there were plenty of other gyms he could join that were closer to his home and work, he was not adversely affected by the gym's policy, and his case was thrown out. Please explain how this situation is different?