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Ontario Court of Appeal sides with LGBTQ Students and Denies Accreditation to Discriminatory Law School

By | TWU

Ontario Court of Appeal sides with LGBTQ Students and Denies Accreditation to Discriminatory Law School

June 29, 2016, Toronto, ON  In a decision released this morning by the Ontario Court of Appeal, a unanimous 3-judge panel upheld the decision of the Law Society of Upper Canada to deny accreditation to the proposed law school at Trinity Western University (TWU).

TWU’s ‘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.

Out On Bay Street and the OUTlaws are groups that represent lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students within the legal community. The groups intervened together in an appeal brought by TWU from a Divisional Court decision that reached the same outcome in July 2015.

In its reasons last year, the Divisional Court had observed that TWU’s mandatory pledge forces LGBTQ people to “disavow not only their beliefs but … their very identity.” Similarly, the Ontario Court of Appeal adopted passages from the written argument of the LGBTQ groups, concluding that “the part of TWU’s Community Covenant in issue in this appeal is deeply discriminatory to the LGBTQ community, and it hurts.”

“We are very pleased with the outcome, and the timing of the decision, as Canada celebrates Pride Month. Our submissions on behalf of the LGBTQ community, particularly students and young professionals, were thoroughly vindicated by the Court of Appeal. The decision also clarifies a lot of misconceptions about the case, particularly on the relevance of the 2001 Supreme Court decision relied on by TWU and its supporters as ‘binding’, and on the appropriate balance between religious freedom and right to equal treatment and access, particularly to public benefits such as legal education and the justice system.” said Paul Jonathan Saguil, pro bono counsel to Out On Bay Street and OUTlaws, and a director on the board of Out On Bay Street.

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. “With cases still pending in the Nova Scotia and B.C. courts, we are delighted to see a respected appellate court adopt our position on the issues of discrimination and equality raised by the TWU Covenant,” stated Saguil.

In the event of an appeal by TWU, Out On Bay Street and the OUTlaws are fully committed to ensuring that LGBTQ voices and student perspectives are heard at the Supreme Court of Canada. In addition to Saguil, the coalition is represented by Marlys Edwardh, Vanessa Payne, and Frances Mahon of Goldblatt Partners LLP.

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For more information, please contact:

Paul Jonathan Saguil
Email: paul.saguil@outonbayst.org
Phone: 416-889-4594

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 groups from Osgoode Hall Law School, Queen’s University, the University of Windsor, and the University of Toronto.

Trinity Western University dispute to be heard by Ontario Court of Appeal

By | TWU

TWU_20160606

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.

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For more information, please contact:

Paul Jonathan Saguil
paul.saguil@outonbayst.org
(416) 889-4594

Written submissions to the Ontario Court of Appeal:

Factum of Out On Bay Street & OUTlaws

(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.

LEAVE GRANTED TO INTERVENE IN TRINITY WESTERN UNIVERSITY LEGAL DISPUTE

By | TWU

Out On Bay Street and OUTlaws granted leave to intervene in Trinity Western University legal dispute

September 25, 2014, Toronto, ON – Out On Bay Street has been granted leave to intervene in Trinity Western University’s (TWU) application to challenge the Law Society of Upper Canada’s decision not to accredit TWU’s proposed law school.

TWU’s Community Covenant Agreement prohibits sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage, which discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students.

Proposed interveners were heard by the Ontario Divisional Court on September 3 and 23. In his decision, Justice Nordheimer wrote that, “Out On Bay Street and OUTlaws represent a group of individuals who are directly affected by the issues raised in this judicial application.”

Accordingly, Out On Bay Street will make submissions to the court regarding the discriminatory impact of TWU’s policies on LGBTQ individuals seeking to enter the legal profession and the public interest in withholding Law Society accreditation from TWU’s law school.

Out On Bay Street is joined by the OUTlaws LGBTQ affinity groups from Osgoode Hall Law School (York University) and the law schools at the University of Toronto, Queen’s University, and the University of Windsor. Earlier this year, both Out On Bay Street and the OUTlaws made submissions to the Law Society opposing TWU’s accreditation.

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.

Out On Bay Street and the OUTlaws are represented by Marlys Edwardh, Vanessa Payne, and Frances Mahon of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP, and Paul Jonathan Saguil, Chair of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity section (SOGIC) of the Ontario Bar Association. The judicial review application is slated to be heard by the court in December.

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For more information, please contact:
Douglas Judson
Director, Board of Directors
Out On Bay Street
Phone: 416-628-3146
Email: douglas.judson@outonbayst.org

Endorsement from the Ontario Divisional Court (issued September 24, 2014):
Endorsement

Motion Materials for the Divisional Court (filed August 15, 2014):
Motion Record
Factum

Submissions to the Law Society of Upper Canada (submitted March 2014):
Out On Bay Street
OUTlaws

TRINITY WESTERN UNIVERSITY LEGAL DISPUTE

By | TWU

Out On Bay Street and OUTlaws seek intervenor status in Trinity Western University legal dispute

August 15, 2014, Toronto, ON – Out On Bay Street has filed submissions with the Ontario Divisional Court to request intervenor status in Trinity Western University’s (TWU) application to challenge the Law Society of Upper Canada’s decision not to accredit TWU’s proposed law school.

TWU’s Community Covenant Agreement prohibits sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage, which discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students.

Out On Bay Street is joined by the OUTlaws LGBTQ affinity groups from Osgoode Hall Law School (York University) and the law schools at the University of Toronto, Queen’s University, and the University of Windsor. Earlier this year, both Out On Bay Street and the OUTlaws made submissions to the Law Society opposing TWU’s accreditation.

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 motion for leave to intervene will be heard by the Divisional Court on Wednesday, September 3, 2014. Out On Bay Street and the OUTlaws are represented by Marlys Edwardh, Vanessa Payne, and Frances Mahon of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP, and Paul Jonathan Saguil, Chair of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity section (SOGIC) of the Ontario Bar Association.

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For more information, please contact:
Douglas Judson
Director, Board of Directors
Out On Bay Street
Phone: 416-628-3146
Email: douglas.judson@outonbayst.org

Motion Materials for the Divisional Court (filed August 15, 2014):
Motion Record
Factum

Submissions to the Law Society of Upper Canada (submitted March 2014):
Out On Bay Street
OUTlaws