TWU Decision – A Victory for LGBTQ/2S+ Communities

June 15, 2018

SUPREME COURT OF CANADA DECISION A FUNDAMENTAL STEP TOWARDS EQUALITY IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION

For immediate release – June 15 2018

VANCOUVER – This morning, the Supreme Court of Canada released its long-awaited decision regarding Trinity Western University’s proposed law school. The Court ruled in favour of the decisions of the Law Societies of British Columbia and Ontario not to approve TWU’s proposed law school because of its discriminatory and mandatory Community Covenant, which requires students to abstain from same-sex intimacy and also limits a woman’s reproductive rights.

The majority of the Court concluded that the Law Society’s decision significantly advanced the goals of maintaining equal access to and diversity in the legal profession and by preventing the risk of significant harm to LGBTQ people.

“The refusal to approve TWU’s proposed law school prevents concrete, not abstract, harms to LGBTQ people and to the public in general. The LSBC’s decision ensures that equal access to the legal profession is not undermined and prevents the risk of significant harm to LGBTQ people… It also maintains confidence in the legal profession, which could be undermined by the LSBC’s decision to approve a law school that forces LGBTQ people to deny who they are for three years to receive a legal education.” [103]

In her final written reasons from the Supreme Court of Canada, Chief Justice McLachlin agreed with the Law Society’s argument that it “cannot condone a practice that discriminates by imposing burdens on LGBTQ people on the basis of sexual orientation, with negative consequences for the LGBTQ community, diversity and the enhancement of equality in the profession.”

The BC LGBTQ Coalition, made up of LGBTQ advocacy groups (the “OutLaws”) from BC’s three existing law schools and QMUNITY, BC’s LGBTQ/2S Resource Centre, intervened in this case in order to advance the perspective of those who would be most impacted by the decision: past, present, and prospective law students. The BC LGBTQ Coalition intervened at the BC Supreme Court, the BC Court of Appeal, and at the Supreme Court of Canada to support the Law Society of BC’s decision to reject the proposed law school in an effort to ensure that the legal profession remains open and available to all individuals regardless of their sexual orientation.

“We are very pleased, thrilled even, with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to uphold the Law Society’s decision”, says President of the OutLaws and third-year law student at Thompson Rivers University, Grace McDonell. “This marks a huge step towards equality in the legal profession and recognizes the need for diversity and dignity in our law schools and society as a whole. The OutLaws are incredibly happy that the legal profession will remain open to any prospective law student and that we can continue to work towards a better and more equal tomorrow for all.”

“We are proud of our students’ efforts in adding their voice to this debate,” adds Professor Craig Jones, Q.C. “For law students to work together to bring their voices as intervenors to the Supreme Court of Canada is particularly impressive.”

Ultimately, this decision has ensured that the door to the legal profession will remain open to all prospective students who wish to attend law school free from discrimination, adversity, and marginalization. Law school should be accessible to all, regardless of sexual orientation, and this decision will help solidify a place within it for everybody. The OutLaws and QMUNITY will continue to advocate for the LGBTQ/2S community and work towards creating safe spaces within law school and society at large.

Grace McDonell​​​​​​
OutLaws President – Thompson Rivers University
[email protected]​​​​
778-987-0210​

Osmel Guerra Maynes
​​QMUNITY ED
604-684-5307 Ext. 101
[email protected]

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