Trinity Western University Again

In Trinity Western University v. The Law Society of Upper Canada, 2016 ONCA 518 the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the refusal of the Law Society of Upper Canada to accredit the law school program.

Six Canadian law regulators have accredited the program. Three, including Ontario’s, have not. Their refusal is due to the mandatory code of conduct “covenant” which prohibits sexual activity except between a married man and woman and is arguably inconsistent with fundamental Canadian values and human rights.

The Court held that the decision of the Law Society discriminated against the freedom of religion of some students at Trinity Western. However, that discrimination was outbalanced by the discriminatory impact of the covenant on other groups including the LGBTQ community. The Court said: “My conclusion is a simple one: the part of TWU’s Community Covenant in issue in this appeal is deeply discriminatory to the LGBTQ community, and it hurts.” The Court held that the Law Society was acting reasonably in denying a public benefit (i.e., accreditation) to a program from a school that was acting in a profoundly discriminatory fashion. In making that decision the regulator was entitled to consider public interest factors beyond the quality of the education provided by the school.

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