Students Protest Canadian Christian University’s Law School Application Over Rules Forbidding Gay Sex, Relationships

Trinity Western University in Vancouver has applied to join the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and establish a law school in 2015, a request that is being met with protest over its discriminatory 'Biblical' policies, the Toronto Star reports:

TwuTWU has all its students sign a community covenant agreement that they will “cultivate Christian values” and in keeping with biblical values will abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

The law students who signed the petition are urging the Federation of Canadian Law Societies, the body that grants law school status to universities, not to allow TWU to become a law school because it forbids students from being in gay relationships.

Osgoode Hall law student Douglas Judson said Tuesday that more than 1,000 students signed the petition in less than a week because they wanted the federation to know their concerns about granting approval to allow TWU to begin accepting law students.

“There must be some duty to propagate Canadian Charter values,” said Judson. Because of the covenant all students at the university must sign or risk expulsion, Judson said TWU’s policies discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals.

B.C. Civil Liberties Association meanwhile, is backing TWU, saying the school is being discriminated against because of its religious beliefs.

XTRA adds:

“Law school is already incredibly stressful, highly competitive, intense, and we don’t need the added stress of being discriminated against by the institution, says Allison Vanek, who is an executive member of OUTLaw, a group for LGBT students and faculty at the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law. “Here at the University of Ottawa we receive nothing but acceptance from faculty, staff and students at our school, and having that support is directly related to our success in law school and that would be helpful and relevant to any law student.

"How is a school with such a convenant supposed to educate a student in law school on these subjects of same-sex marriage and cases about queer families, same-sex adoption, assisted human reproduction?" Vanek asks. "Those are all going to be relevant in the coming years.”


  1. David Hearne says

    As always, the test is public funding. If the school accepts no public funding then it ought to be perfectly free (In my opinion and ignorance of Canadian law) to do as it pleases.

  2. says

    No matter how pathetically our embarrassing PM Stephen Harper will want to side with prejudice and dogma, Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms won’t let him.

    the irony of it being a law school is just too amazing for words.

  3. Thomas says

    I don’t know about Canadian law in detail, but isn’t sexual orientation not allowed in the Charter of Rights? And wouldn’t granting a law school like this recognition violate that? Just wondering if anyone can help clarify.

  4. Steve says

    Even without public funding, this shouldn’t be allowed. Canada has the right of it. The US is the perfect example of where a country is headed when crap like that spreads. And it’s not pretty.

  5. says

    Sexual orientation and gender-identity are indeed protected under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    simply put – it’s human rights before religious or cultural ones.

  6. JoelD says

    An alternative approach…

    Dear BCCLA, how the association is responding to the Trinity Western university’s position that students be coerced into signing away their rights under the Canadian Charter so as to remain in school and become lawyers who, on graduation, must uphold the same charter rights denied them.

  7. David Hearne says

    Steve – How do you figure that a private school shouldn’t be able to control its own policies?

    Freedom is indeed messy.

  8. Steve says

    Why should a school’s so-called “freedom” come before the students’ freedom? Especially since a school or business isn’t even a legal person. Doing so has indeed resulted in a mess in the US with highly destructive consequences for the entire society. Having a parallel, private religious education system hasn’t been good for America. Especially when they train people like lawyers and psychotherapists who don’t follow proper standards.

  9. Jay jay says

    @ David – it’s already been mentioned.. our constitution act 1987.. Aka charter of rights .. We don’t allow any form
    Of discrimination based on sex etc to protect the greater good of society.. In the same instance as hate speech .. Having inadequate or esquewed viewed lawyers do to not their own personal belief/choice but being taught at a private/public educational institution will significantly affect the society by their political endevours as well as their capacity to serve on the bench. By such token, the bar must weight in whether such proposal sufficiently met it’s candidature requirements and if the argument of personal freedom vs societal detrement had been sufficiently resolved by the institution at hand.

  10. Randy says

    When the Christianists are losing the young Christianists, the writing is on the wall.

    I predict that within two generations, even most Christian religions will say that all this crap about hating gays was just a “misinterpretation” of the bible’s message of love.

  11. Jay says

    David, Steve and Jay jay have covered it but just want to point out, if you are a citizen of the US rather than one of Canada…

    The US bill of rights was used as a basis for the canadian charter of 1982 and their enumerated rights. Basis but expanded upon for a modern climate and multicultural reality. While the US still maintains this idea of “private” and protects religious schools from secular demands, Canada sees something like a school, whether private or state-funded, as something that must conform to the charter. While Canada will not tell a school they cannot follow a particular faith or practice, all Canadian citizens are afforded the rights of:
    conscience and religious worship;
    thought (the right to have opinions and beliefs of one’s choice);
    the press and other media;
    expression (the right to state personal opinions openly);
    association (the right to gather with the people of one’s choice); and
    assembly (the right to meet peacefully with others).

    The school is violating student rights by requiring they submit to a religious practice or belieft system. Dead stop.

  12. DW says

    Jesus was pretty clear in his condemnation of lawyers, so I’m looking forward to the imminent announcement that this school is closing in keeping with Christian values.

    Luke 11:46
    And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe unto you!

  13. David Hearne says

    Jay Jay –

    To use the term “human rights” in the same breath as “hate speech” is a contradiction. The ONLY speech which needs protection is offensive speech. A hate-speech law is not something to be proud of. Moreover, it doesn’t stop hate, it merely criminalizes speech. It’s indefensible. I’ll stick with the US Constitution, thank you.

  14. Moz's says

    Our 1st president G Washington blood let 1` quart of blood to cure a sore throat for crying out loud

    A modern 4th grader knows more about science and reality than our founding fathers

    The US constitution was written for a time when there were far fewer citizens, they lived farther apart, didn’t have indoor plumbing, couldn’t conceive of our modern life and would consider even neanderthal scalia a witch fit for burning at the stake for using an electric razor in the morning

  15. GregV says

    If students are to be accredited for a profession, they first need an education that is based on scientific understanding without any sllowance for unsupported prejudices.
    One should not be accredited as a dentist,, for example, after having attended a “school” that bases its understanding of teeth on witch-doctor superstitions, and one should not be accredited as an astronomer for having attended a pseudo-school that bases its understanding of the earth and solar system on superstitions about the moon being made of cheese and volcanoes happening becsuse a deity got angry because someone didn’t sacrifice a bird during her menstrual period.
    When Trinity Western University requires its faculty members to stand by particular thinking (some of which they surely don’t believe, anyway) regardless if there is no rational basis for it, there is the potential for students to graduate without having actually had access to an education, per se.

  16. Randy says

    If the school can force students to sign a statement, then surely a federation can force member organizations to sign a contrary statement.

  17. Marc says

    I suspect that the law association will not grant the school a law school.

    Recently there was a supreme court decision which stated that one was not allowed to use religious beliefs to justify hate speech. i can see some parallels in this case with the court saying that in order to get the law school charter, the university will have to forego the “purity test”

  18. David Hearne says

    GregV – I understand what you are saying, but one can indeed graduate from an accredited university not only having been taught that God created the world in six days, but believing that to be true. Now how such a person can still believe that and be a biologist or a medical doctor is beyond my comprehension but apparently they can.

    So it’s also possible for a person to be a Jesus Freak and know the law. In fact, many of the adult members of the Phelps family are lawyers.

  19. andrew says

    Any religious university is a contradiction in terms. Bible thumpers believe that they possess all truth. A university is supposed to be a place where through rigorous study and debates you try to arrive at some truths.