Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Dispute between Christian University, B.C. Law Society Now Court Bound

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Dispute between Christian University, B.C. Law Society Now Court Bound

Article excerpt

Christian university, B.C. law society court bound


VANCOUVER - A Christian university embroiled in a debate about religious freedoms and same-sex equality rights will challenge in court a Law Society of British Columbia decision not to accredit graduates from its proposed law school.

In contention is a community covenant at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C., that prohibits sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman.

The society accredited the proposed law school last April but reversed that decision in October.

Earlier this month, the government announced that it was also revoking its support.

University spokesman Guy Saffold said the judicial review will ask the B.C. Supreme Court to overturn the society's decision because it acted improperly under its own procedural guidelines and Canadian law.

"The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the freedom of religion, the freedom of religious communities to express their identity and we feel that the decision the law society has made violates those very important freedoms of our Canadian society," said Saffold.

A similar judicial review is already underway in Nova Scotia. There, the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society has decided not to allow graduates of the proposed law school to enrol in the bar admission program unless the university dropped a requirement that students sign a pledge to abstain from sex outside heterosexual marriage.

The Law Society of B.C. said in an email that it will defend its decision and respond to the university's petition within the time provided under the court's rules.

"As the matter is now before the courts, we will not be commenting further on the issues involved in the litigation," said spokesman Ryan-Sang Lee.

Barbara findlay, who describes herself as a lesbian lawyer, said she is not surprised by TWU's decision to challenge the law society.

"They have been going to court in every province whose law society has refused them accreditation, hoping for a different outcome," said findlay, who doesn't use capitals in her name. …

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