Today, we welcome the Supreme Court of Canada’s decisions in two cases concerning admissions to the proposed law school at Trinity Western University (TWU), an Evangelical Christian university located in Langley, BC.
The Court ruled that the mandatory Covenant at TWU creates inequitable barriers to entry to their proposed law school and would harm LGBTQ individuals.
Today’s decisions mark a significant victory for equality. Private institutions cannot engage in discriminatory admissions practices if they are looking for the state’s stamp of approval. The Court affirmed the law societies’ obligation to ensure that equity, diversity, and inclusion are at the forefront of upholding and protecting the public interest.
The two cases – one from BC and one from Ontario – made their way up to Canada’s highest court together. The law societies in both provinces had denied accreditation to TWU’s proposed law school on the basis that the Covenant imposed on students and employees of the university is contrary to the law societies’ mandate to promote and protect the public interest. Among other things, the Covenant prohibits sexual expression outside of heterosexual marriage and prohibits reproductive choice.
A majority of the judges recognized that the Covenant creates inequitable barriers to entry to law school and ultimately to the legal profession, and that it would risk decreasing diversity in the profession and would harm LGBTQ individuals. The majority further found that the law societies acted reasonably to promote public confidence in the administration of justice.
West Coast LEAF intervened in the BC case at all levels of court to argue that the Covenant discriminates against, and penalizes, those who choose to exercise their reproductive rights, and that it discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and marital status by prohibiting all relationships that are not heterosexual and between married people.
The Supreme Court confirmed today that separate educational institutions are not equal. Equality in education is not just about how many law school seats might be made available – it is about treating everyone as worthy of respect and dignity. We couldn’t agree more.