Anti-gay B.C. university's law school denied Ontario accreditation

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Thanks to a community covenant banning gay sex among students, Trinity Western University has hit the first of what Vancouver Park Board commissioner Trevor Loke hopes will be many roadblocks in opening its law school.

Loke is suing the government of B.C. with breach of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for accrediting Trinity Western University’s law school. He said he is pleasantly surprised that directors of Ontario’s law society, The Law Society of Upper Canada, voted 28 to 21 against accreditation.

“We were not very optimistic about things going well today,” Loke said. “We’d heard a lot of the arguments from benchers in the (Ontario) law society and their arguments were basically about how they disagree with the covenant, but they didn’t feel they had the right to deny the school accreditation, which is the stance B.C. took a few weeks ago. But it looks like they changed their minds, which is a good thing for us, obviously.”

Gay sex “violates sacredness of marriage”

The school’s covenant, which all students and faculty must sign, bans sexual activity which “violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Trinity Western president Bob Kuhn has responded by arguing to The Tyee that the Supreme Court of Canada already upheld the school’s right to bind students to the covenant of “truth, biblical analysis, and understanding how a community of Christians are to live together.”

The school argues its status as a private institution gives it the freedom to impose the covenant.

B.C. should not support discrimination

However, in his suit against the province, Loke argues that law societies like the Law Society of B.C. are public institutions, and therefore should apply the Charter when granting accreditation to schools. By that metric, he said, the province endorses discrimination.

“I think with the accreditation of two your setting up a school that’s only available to a certain segment on the population,” said Loke. With sweats that are so coveted like a lawyer or judge I think you have to apply value to that work and apply the charter to that decision on whether or not to grant them a law school.”

Loke, a Christian who lives with his male common-law spouse, said it’s not just personal for him.

“There are only so many legal seats in B.C.,” he said. “With sweats that are so coveted like a lawyer or judge I think you have to apply value to that work. In the case of accrediting Trinity Western, you’re saying those new seats that are going to be opened up in B.C. are going to be limited to students who are not LGBT and don’t share the beliefs of the school. Evidently the minister (of Advanced Education, Amrik Virk) thinks that’s a good way to go and I don’t, I think it’s against the intention of the Charter and how it should be applied.”

Additionally, a Victoria lawyer has submitted a petition with over 1,100 signatures calling for a meeting to reconsider the B.C. law society’s approval of Trinity Western University’s law school. The decision could go to a referendum, if enough members attending that meeting agreed.

Today, Nova Scotia’s law society will decide on whether to accredit Trinity Western University’s law school.

Update: Nova Scotia voted Friday to approve Trinity Western, but only if it drops the discriminatory covenant.

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Derek Bedry is a writer whose work has been published in magazines, newspapers, online and on radio. He is interested in LGBT issues, news, zombie fiction and sports.

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