The Faculty Council of the UBC Law Faculty urges the Law Society of B.C. to consider the harmful effects of effectively excluding LGBTQ people from Trinity Western University’s (TWU) proposed law school would have on law students at TWU, lawyers, and citizens of B.C.
The proposed entry condition of signing the TWU Community Covenant effectively excludes individuals whose sexuality is expressed outside of a marriage between a man and a woman from attending the new law school. TWU reserves the right to discipline or dismiss a student or employee who breaches this agreement.
“We encourage the Law Society to look fully at the conflict between TWU’s Community Covenant Agreement and a lawyer’s obligation of non-discrimination,” says Professor Margot Young. “As a result of the Community Covenant Agreement, lawyers employed by TWU as staff or faculty may be forced to choose between enforcing the TWU’s Covenant Agreement and complying with BC’s Code of Professional Conduct, which requires non-discrimination.”
A report issued by a “Special Advisory Committee” of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada identified that LGBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer) people “would legitimately feel unwelcome at a TWU law school.”
The request by UBC Law’s Faculty Council is part of a larger motion urging the Law Society of B.C., which regulates entry into the practice of law in B.C., to ensure full and meaningful participation of groups most affected by and interested in the entry conditions proposed for the TWU law school.
Please see attached, to read the motion passed by the UBC Law Faculty Council.
Margot Young, Associate Professor of Law
“The proposed law school raises key questions about important rights and freedoms, including equality and freedom of religion,” says Young. “The reports published so far have failed to identify the range of interests at stake and have not considered the particular statutory responsibilities of the Law Society to protect rights and freedoms and to act in the public interest. We urge a full, public, participatory process for considering these critical questions in relation to the proposed new law school.”
On December 16, 2013, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, which determines whether law degree programs meet academic requirements set out by Canadian law societies, granted preliminary approval to TWU’s proposed school of law program. On December 18, 2013, the BC Minister of Advanced Education granted consent for TWU’s application for its proposed new law school programme.
Trinity Western University is an evangelical Christian university located in Langley, B.C.
UBC Law’s Faculty Council considers academic and faculty matters in the UBC Faculty of Law. It includes all professors in the Faculty, and also has representation from UBC law students.
The Law Society regulates entry into the practice of law in BC and sets the conditions for membership in the provincial bar.
The law societies of Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan have committed to open, full processes of considering the issue of accreditation of TWU’s proposed law school.