B.C. school’s pledge to ban sex outside of heterosexual marriage now optional for students

B.C. school’s pledge to ban sex outside of heterosexual marriage now optional for students

Community convenant of Langley’s Trinity Western University has been centre of rights debate

Trinity Western University’s community covenant is no longer mandatory for students.

The Langley-based university has decided to change its requirements surrounding a controversial covenant that forbids sexual intimacy outside of marriage, which is defined as between a man and a woman.

The covenant, which all students, staff and faculty at TWU, a private Christian university, were expected to sign, will become optional for students, but will still apply to staff and faculty.

A statement issued Tuesday by TWU President Bob Kuhn said the decision was made by the university board of governors on Thursday, Aug. 9.

“In a decision that I believe will successfully position us to better fulfill the TWU Mission, the Board of Governors has passed the following motion: ‘In furtherance of our desire to maintain TWU as a thriving community of Christian believers that is inclusive of all students wishing to learn from a Christian viewpoint and underlying philosophy, the Community Covenant will no longer be mandatory as of the 2018-19 Academic year with respect to admission of students to, or continuation of students at, the University.’”

Kuhn said the university will “actively work to determine ways in which our Christian identity, mission and ministry can continue to be strengthened, communicated and better lived-out in the context of the TWU community while simultaneously welcoming and affirming the unique value of each member of our diverse student body.”

“Let there be no confusion regarding the Board of Governors’ resolution; our mission remains the same,” Kuhn added.

The announcement drew a positive, but cautious response from Kasari Govender the executive director of West Coast Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), one of the groups that went to court to argue against approving the law school while the covenant was in effect.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Govender.

“I certainly think it’s a positive step (but) it’s not sufficient to alleviate our concerns about discrimination.”

West Coast LEAF intervened in the BC case at all levels of court to argue that the covenant discriminates against people who choose to exercise their reproductive rights and discriminates on the basis of “sexual orientation and marital status by prohibiting all relationships that are not heterosexual and between married people.”

Govender said there are “constitutional issues” that would have to be considered before a law school would be considered acceptable, including the fact that the covenant is still mandatory for faculty and staff.

“Does it really mean this is a law school that won’t be exclusionary?” Govender said.

Several law societies have said they would not recognize degrees issued by a proposed school of law at Trinity because of the covenant.

The law school was granted preliminary approval by the provincial government in 2013, but that approval was later withdrawn because of the various legal challenges mounted by critics in the legal community, who complained the clause was anti-gay and would violate a lawyer’s duty to represent all clients.

In June, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the right of two Canadian Law Societies to refuse accreditation for a proposed law school at Trinity Western University.

READ MORE: Supreme Court of Canada rules against TWU in fight over law school

Both the Law Societies of B.C. and Ontario objected to the community covenant, arguing it discriminates against LGBTQ students.

The LSBC initially approved the law school at the private Christian university in Langley, but later withdrew that approval because of controversy over the covenant.

“There can be no question that the LSBC was entitled to consider an inequitable admissions policy in determining whether to approve the proposed law school. Its mandate is broad,” the judgment stated.

“In promoting the public interest in the administration of justice and, relatedly, public confidence in the legal profession, the LSBC was entitled to consider an admissions policy that imposes inequitable and harmful barriers to entry.”

The court ruled that the LSBC decision “did not limit religious freedom to a significant extent…”

While Canadian law protects the rights of people to hold personal religious beliefs, that right has to be balanced against the effect they have on other people, the court found.

“In this case, the effect of the mandatory covenant is to restrict the conduct of others. The LSBC’s decision prevents the risk of significant harm to LGBTQ people who feel they have no choice but to attend TWU’s proposed law school. These individuals would have to deny who they are for three years to receive a legal education. Being required by someone else’s religious beliefs to behave contrary to one’s sexual identity is degrading and disrespectful.”

READ MORE: Trinity Western University in Langley sues law society over law school

During the legal battle, Kuhn noted the TWU covenant also says that “all students and faculty are to love and respect other people, regardless of their background or personal characteristics. TWU is a community of diversity and acceptance. This campus is a Christian home for four thousand students with an array of opinions and beliefs.”

Tag

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ucluelet locals Rachael, Caroline and Tom enjoy refreshments on a sunny Monday afternoon at a picnic table dining area set up by the District of Ucluelet to help residents and visitors support local businesses while staying outside. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Ucluelet chamber launches bingo contest to support local restaurants

Four Ucluelet Co-op shopping sprees are up for grabs in #Ukee2go competition.

The entrance to the Lodge Property on Reef Point Road. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Virtual public hearing held for the Lodge Property in Ucluelet

Mayor and council to make a final decision during the April 14 regular council meeting

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s Green Point Campground saw an unprecedented flurry of reservations last week. (Pacific Rim National Park Reserve photo)
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s campground sees ‘unprecedented’ interest as reservations open

Green Point Campground is scheduled to open from May 1 – Oct. 12 this year.

Kale is a classic in West Coast gardens.
COLUMN: Kale reigns supreme in West Coast gardens

In Tofino and Ucluelet, kale is a classic.

(B.C. Government photo)
POLL QUESTION: Are you in favour of B.C.’s three-week ban on in-restaurant dining?

Dr. Bonnie Henry called the three week stoppage a “circuit breaker”

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

Most Read