TWU Law: A Reply to Proponents of Approval
(2014) 37:2 Dalhousie Law Journal 621
41 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2014 Last revised: 7 Dec 2015
Date Written: June 5, 2014
Trinity Western University has a Community Covenant that only permits sexual minorities to attend at considerable personal cost to their dignity and sense of self-worth. All student and staff applicants to TWU are required to sign this covenant pledging not to engage in same sex intimacy. On April 11, 2014, the Law Society of British Columbia accredited TWU’s law degree program despite the university’s formal policy of exclusion on the basis of sexual orientation. Later that month, the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society refused to approve that same program because of concerns regarding the institution’s discriminatory admissions policy. Law societies in some other provinces have yet to make a decision on accreditation. The purpose of this article is to offer a reply to the arguments advanced by proponents of granting law society accreditation to TWU’s proposed program.
The paper rejects six of the central claims that proponents of approval have advanced. First it responds to the claim that TWU does not actually discriminate against the LGBTQ community. Second it speaks to the assertion that the Community Covenant represents a voluntary choice not to engage in same sex sexual intimacy. Third it rejects the contention that TWU welcomes gay and lesbian students. Fourth it challenges the distinction TWU supporters draw between a code of conduct that prohibits same sex intimacy and a policy that excludes gays and lesbians. Fifth it rejects the proposition, broadly accepted by the Benchers of the Law Society of BC, that the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in BCCT is dispositive of the issue faced by law societies today. Sixth, it rejects the claim that opposition to public accreditation of TWU can be equated with opposition to a Christian worldview or the desirability of a faith-based university. The final section of the paper argues that the decisions of the LSUC and the NSBS were reasonable and will be respected by reviewing courts.
Keywords: Trinity Western, law school, accreditation, equality, gay, lesbian, human rights, legal profession, freedom of religion, Charter values, evangelical, discrimination, community covenant, student code of conduct
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