FACL Speaks Out Against the Approval of the Trinity Western University Law School in British Columbia
As an organization aimed at promoting equity, justice and opportunity, FACL strongly opposes the Federation of Law Societies of Canada's (FLSC’s) recommendation that provincial law societies approve Trinity Western University's (TWU's) proposed law school program. FACL is also disturbed by the B.C. Minister of Advanced Education's hasty approval of TWU's law degree program the day after the FLSC concluded its protracted and closed-door process.
Specifically, FACL is of the view that the TWU Community Covenant Agreement, that is required to be signed by all TWU faculty, staff and students, is discriminatory. The Community Covenant Agreement includes a requirement to abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and woman” and provides TWU with the reserved rights to question, challenge or discipline its members in response to actions that impact personal or social welfare. Past iterations of the Community Covenant included a requirement to refrain from practices that are biblically condemned, including homosexual behaviour.
The mandatory requirement to enter into the Community Covenant Agreement as a condition to school admission and employment at TWU has the effect of excluding applicants from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender communities and negatively impacts upon the human dignity of persons in these communities.
FACL believes that all law schools across Canada must create a forum for free exchange of ideas, premised upon inclusion, tolerance, respect and opportunity for equal participation. FACL further believes that law schools and the institutions that authorize the creation of these schools must act in the public interest and ensure that their policies and practices adhere to the principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and provincial and territorial human rights legislation.
FACL agrees with the Council of Canadian Law Deans that, “Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unlawful in Canada and fundamentally at odds with the core values of all Canadian law schools.”
FACL calls upon the provincial law societies and government decision makers across Canada, to act in the public interest and to reject TWU’s application for accreditation of its law school program and to withdraw all approvals and consents on the basis that its policies and practices are discriminatory and contrary to the principles of human rights law in Canada. In addition, FACL advocates for the inclusion of a non-discrimination policy as a condition that all law schools must adhere to in order to maintain its accreditation.