The B.C. Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of Christian-based Trinity Western University to accredit its law school students to practise in this province.
The Langley university has faced both controversy and a series of setbacks across Canada in its attempt to obtain accreditation for students of its proposed law school.
In British Columbia, the Law Society of B.C. originally decided to accredit the law school in 2014. That decision was reversed later that year when members voted against accreditation in a referendum.
In December 2015, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in favour of TWU and restored accreditation.
Today (November 1), the B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal from the Law Society of B.C., which argued that the covenant that students must sign, which forbids sexual relations outside of a marriage between a man and a woman, discriminates against LGBT people.
The court ruled that the society's decision to refuse accreditation disproportionately limits the university's right to religious freedom and would be "unreasonable".
“The freedom to believe as we choose and practice accordingly is one of the most profound privileges we have as Canadians," university spokeperson Amy Robertson stated in a news release in response to the ruling. "We are a diverse, pluralistic society, committed to respecting one another even when we disagree.
Vancouver lawyer and LGBT activist barbara findlay expressed her disappointment in a news release.
"The rights of gay and lesbian people to an education without discrimination took a blow today," she stated. "
In ruling in favour of TWU, the Court said that the Law Society should have concluded that the religious rights of TWU and its community were impaired more than the rights of prospective queer students, staff and faculty to be free from discrimination."
The law school was originally scheduled to open this fall but due to the ongoing legal issues, its opening has been delayed until 2018.
Five law societies have granted accreditation to the law school: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
The university is planning to take the Ontario Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, due to the court siding with the province's law society to reject accreditation.