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Canadian Supreme Court rules LGBT rights trump religious freedom

Canada’s highest court ruled in favor of denying accreditation to a Christian law school that banned students from having gay sex.

Canada’s highest court ruled in favor of denying accreditation to a Christian law school that banned students from having gay sex.

The evangelical Trinity Western University in British Columbia opened its law school in 2013, and applied for accreditation in every province so that its students could be called to the bar anywhere in Canada. But Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia law societies denied the school accreditation because it required all students to sign a covenant binding them to a code of conduct that banned sex outside the confines of heterosexual marriage.

A legal battle ensued, with lower courts in Nova Scotia and British Columbia siding with the university, and Ontario siding with the law society and upheld the organization’s right to deny the school accreditation.

The case went all the way to Canada’s top court, with the Supreme Court deciding that protecting LGBT students from discrimination trumped religious freedom. The SC found that supporting diversity in Canada’s legal profession, and protecting the safety of LGBT students, was more important than the school’s right to religious freedom.

“The (law society of British Columbia) has an overarching interest in protecting the values of equality and human rights in carrying out its functions,” the court ruled. “Approving or facilitating inequitable barriers to the profession could undermine public confidence in the (law society’s) ability to regulate in the public interest.”

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