UNB Law School Pressures Law Society on Trinity Western University
Posted by Wayves volunteer 21/03/2014
By Ted Flett
Protesters opposing Trinity Western University’s law school outside Toronto's Osgoode Hall in 2013.
The University of New Brunswick’s law school has given a green light to expressing opposition to the thought of graduates from the recently-approved Trinity Western University (TWU) practicing in New Brunswick.
TWU, a Christian-based university, requires students to comply with a community covenant that prohibits “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” In a case of freedom of religion trumping equality rights, the law school has been approved by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. UNB Law’s faculty council is rightly concerned about the impact on the legal profession of graduates from a law school that discriminates against its LGBTQ students.
Specifically, UNB Law’s faculty council passed a motion to “establish an ad hoc committee … tasked with drafting a submission to the Law Society of New Brunswick regarding the admission of law graduates of Trinity Western University to the New Brunswick bar, for approval by Faculty Council." The Law Society of New Brunswick determines what law schools it will recognize in accrediting lawyers to practice in the province. The committee will be comprised of a mix of faculty and students, including a representative of UNB OUTLaw, the school’s LGBTQ student and ally society.
As a first-year law student and UNB OUTLaw Chair, I feel the motion and adhoc committee is a great first step towards defending human rights in New Brunswick and Canada. We are proud that LGBT law students and our allies will have a seat at the table from which to advocate for an appropriate but strong message that the Law Society of New Brunswick needs to think long and hard before rolling out the red carpet to TWU grads to practice law in our province.
Full credit goes to OUTLaw’s 30+ membership for applying pressure on the UNB law school community to take a position. The student society began lobbying the Law Society of New Brunswick last month by co-signing a letter to the society with other OUTLaw representatives nation-wide.
To date, law societies of Alberta, Newfoundland & Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan have signalled that TWU graduates will be eligible to practice in their respective provinces. It is our profound hope that the Law Society of New Brunswick will be a fly in TWU's ointment and choose to uphold human rights in Canada and protect the legal profession.
OUTLaw: OUTLaw, the University of New Brunswick’s society for gay law students and allies, seeks to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues and affairs among communities locally and globally for the purpose of advancing rights, promoting acceptance and respect.
Ted Flett is a first year UNB law student attending the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, NB. He also authors a blog, Boardroom2Classroom.