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Canada Supreme Court Rules against Christian Law School
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Summary: The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that LGBTQ rights were more important than religious rights in regards to allowing a law school to open at a private Christian institution.

The Supreme Court of Canada made a big ruling today, clearing stating that LGBTQ rights outweigh religious freedom. In an unprecedented move against religious freedom in the country, the ruling struck down the success of a law school at Trinity Western University, according to an update on Life Site.

  
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The ruling stated it was “proportionate and reasonable” for British Columbia and Ontario’s law societies to refuse to accredit any Trinity Western University law school graduates because of the private Christian school’s “community covenant” prohibiting sex outside of marriage between a man and woman.

The ruling continued, “In our respectful view, the [law societies] decision not to accredit Trinity Western University’s proposed law school represents a proportionate balance between the limitation on the Charter right at issue and the statutory objectives the [law societies] sought to pursue.”

This means that should Trinity Western University decide to open the law school, any future graduates will not be able to practice law in British Columbia or Ontario. The university, associated with the Evangelical Free Church, requires students to sign a “community covenant” that they will refrain from sexual activity “that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and woman.”

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Judges Rosalie Abella, Clement Gascon, Andromache Karakatsanis, Beverley McLachlin, Michael Moldaver, Malcolm Rowe and Richard Wagner voted in favor of the law societies’ right to refuse accreditation. McLachlin wrote, “Freedom of religion protects the rights of religious adherents to hold and express beliefs through both individual and communal practices. Where a religious practice impacts others, however, this can be taken into account at the balancing stage. In this case, the effect of the mandatory Covenant is to restrict the conduct of others. The LSBC’s decision prevents the risk of significant harm to LGBTQ people who feel they have no choice but to attend TWU’s proposed law school. These individuals would have to deny who they are for three years to receive a legal education. Being required by someone else’s religious beliefs to behave contrary to one’s sexual identity is degrading and disrespectful.”

Justices Brown and Cote voted in favor of religious freedom. They wrote, “Under the LSBC’s governing statute, the only proper purpose of a law faculty approval decision is to ensure the fitness of individual graduates to become members of the legal profession. The LSBC’s decision denying approval to TWU’s proposed law school has a profound impact on the s.2 (a) rights of the TWU community. Even if the LSBC’s statutory ‘public interest’ mandate were to be interpreted such that it had the authority to take considerations other than fitness into account, approving the proposed law school is not contrary to the public interest objectives of maintaining equal access and diversity in the legal profession. Nor does it condone discrimination against LGBTQ persons. In our view, then, the only decision reflecting a proportionate balancing between Charter rights and the LSBC’s statutory objectives would be to approve TWU’s proposed law school.”



The Supreme Court heard from a number of groups over the course of several days instead of a traditional one-day hearing because LGBTQ activists took to Twitter to complain about a one-day hearing preventing more LGBTQ interveners from speaking. Some of the interveners included Ontario’s government, referring to the covenant’s treatment of LGBTQ persons to how Jews were treated 200 years ago when non-Christians were banned from the legal profession.

Do you think the ruling in a way is discrimination as well? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about the case, read these articles:

Photo: ctvnews.ca



 

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