Trinity Western University dispute to be heard by Ontario Court of Appeal
June 2, 2016, Toronto, ON – Out On Bay Street and OUTlaws will be back in court next week defending equal access to the Ontario legal profession for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students. The organizations will be arguing to uphold the Law Society of Upper Canada’s (LSUC) decision not to accredit a proposed law school that would discriminate against LGBTQ students.
Trinity Western University’s (TWU) ‘Community Covenant Agreement’ requires students to abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” The policy discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. Its breach carries disciplinary sanctions, up to expulsion.
After being denied accreditation by the Law Society in 2014, TWU brought the issue before the Ontario Divisional Court, which sided with LSUC. In its reasons, the unanimous court observed that TWU’s mandatory pledge forces LGBTQ people to “disavow not only their beliefs but … their very identity.”
TWU has appealed the Divisional Court’s decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal, which is scheduled to hear the matter on June 6 and 7 at Old Osgoode Hall in Toronto (130 Queen. St. W.). Hearings will be open to the public and will begin at 10.30AM. In addition to the main parties, there are a total of 13 intervenors that will be heard by the Court.
Similar TWU judicial reviews are moving through appellate courts in Nova Scotia and B.C., where law societies also declined to accredit TWU’s program. The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal is expected to release its decision in the coming months, while hearings before the B.C. Court of Appeal are unfolding this week. The OUTlaws have participated in all stages of the Nova Scotia and B.C. proceedings.
Out On Bay Street and the OUTlaws are represented pro bono by Marlys Edwardh, Vanessa Payne, and Frances Mahon of Goldblatt Partners LLP, and Paul Jonathan Saguil, a Director of Out On Bay Street and Chair of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Section (SOGIC) of the Ontario Bar Association.
For more information, please contact:
Written submissions to the Ontario Court of Appeal:
(Facta and other filings for all parties and intervenors are available online at www.outonbayst.org under “About Us”.)
About Out On Bay Street and the OUTlaws:
Out On Bay Street is a registered non-profit organization that facilitates the professional development of LGBTQ students as they transition through school to career. The organization promotes inclusive, queer-friendly workplaces and professional communities, with a particular focus on law and business. The OUTlaws are a network of LGBTQ and Ally affinity groups at law schools across Canada.
Out On Bay Street is joined in this intervention by the OUTlaws LGBTQ affinity groups from Osgoode Hall Law School, Queen’s University, the University of Windsor, and the University of Toronto.