Trinity Western University is going to the Supreme Court of Canada after the Ontario court refused to alter the decision of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
The society refused to allow TWU law grads to practise there.
“The court correctly found an infringement of TWU’s rights,” said Earl Phillips, executive director of the proposed law school. “However, we are most disappointed that the court found the infringement to be justifiable. That finding is a serious limitation to freedom of conscience and religion under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
The Law Society of Upper Canada refused to recognize graduates of TWU’s proposed School of Law after a vote in 2014. TWU took the law society to court, and in July 2015, a three-justice panel of the Ontario Divisional Court ruled against TWU even after finding that the university’s right to freedom of religion had been breached. TWU appealed, and the decision was presented June 29.
“Our teachers, nurses and business graduates in particular are sought after for their compassion, integrity, training, and skill,” said Phillips. “After we make our case in Canada’s Supreme Court, I look forward to seeing the difference that graduates of TWU’s School of Law will make.”
The Law Society of Upper Canada challenged TWU’s Community Covenant, which asks students to live according to Christian values, including integrity, honesty and care. It also asks students to abstain from sexual intimacy outside of marriage, which it defines as between a man and a woman.
TWU maintains that all students, including LGBTQ students, are welcomed and can be open about their identities.
“Based on my conversations with others in the TWU community, I know that LGBTQ students attend TWU, and they find it a safe, welcoming place to be,” said Amy Robertson, a university spokesperson.
The school still awaits the appeal decisions in this province and Nova Scotia, where the law societies have also said they will not recognize grads from TWU’s law school.