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Trinity Western has a right to discriminate, says lawyer

Should a Christian school demand its values be followed for admission?

Trinity Western University has every right to discriminate in its admissions policy against people who want to have sex outside traditional marriage, the school’s lawyer told BC’s Court of Appeal, June 2, 2016.

In fact, Kevin Boonstra says, any exclusion that may occur as a result of TWU’s admission policy doesn’t even count as discrimination under the law.

That’s because TWU’s covenant barring sex outside heterosexual marriage is part of the fabric that holds the religious school’s community together, he says.

Boonstra wants the appeal court to uphold last year’s ruling ordering BC’s law society to reinstate its approval for TWU’s proposed law school.

The law society had initially agreed to accredit the school in April 2014, then rescinded its acceptance six months later after an outcry from its members.

Boonstra says that reversal sets a dangerous precedent.

He says the university fears other professional groups could use the same rationale to bar its graduates from other professions.

Boonstra got support from Roman Catholic Archdiocese lawyer Gwendoline Allison in court. She says the law society’s rejection of the Christian university’s proposed law school just isn’t compatible with Canadian values of tolerance.

Naomi Moses disagrees.

(OUTLaws member Naomi Moses, who attended day one of the appeal hearing, says TWU’s covenant is harmful because it denies LGBT students equal access to the school./Jeremy Hainsworth/Daily Xtra)

The OUTLaws member, who attended day one of the appeal hearing June 1, thinks the harm caused by TWU’s covenant is the real problem. She supports the law society’s decision to rescind accreditation.

Moses expects the case to ultimately wind up before the Supreme Court of Canada for a final decision.

The law society is appealing last year’s decision by the BC Supreme Court in TWU’s favour. The society says it had to respect its members’ wishes to rescind approval.

Arguments continue June 3.

Editor’s Note: For clarity, the landing image on this story was changed to a photo of Trinity Western University’s lawyer Kevin Boonstra on June 3, 2016, and a sentence was added June 6 to clarify Boonstra's argument to the court.

 

This story is filed under News & Ideas, Rights & Liberties, Vancouver