This case is about ensuring that all Canadians have equal access to the legal profession without discrimination based on their identity or an immutable personal characteristic such as sexual orientation or gender identity. The OUTlaws and Out On Bay Street are intervening in a lawsuit brought against the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC).
In April 2014, LSUC declined to accredit the proposed law school program at Trinity Western University (TWU), on account of its discriminatory policies towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals. An application for judicial review was heard by the Divisional Court of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in June 2015. The unanimous court ruled in favour of LSUC, however, TWU has indicated that it will seek leave to appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal.
TWU is an Evangelical Christian university that is seeking to open its own law school. It is currently seeking the accreditation of provincial and territorial regulators of the legal profession so that its graduates will be eligible to seek admission to the bar of each jurisdiction. In Ontario, this regulator is LSUC.
Accrediting TWU is problematic because the school forces its students to sign a ‘Community Covenant Agreement‘ that requires the student to abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman”. The policy plainly discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. Its breach carries disciplinary sanctions, up to expulsion.
The TWU policy is inconsistent with Canadian law and public policy, the equality rights of LGBTQ individuals under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the obligation of the legal profession to advance the cause of justice and protect the public interest. Accordingly, LSUC declined to accredit TWU’s law program in April 2014. TWU has since launched a lawsuit seeking judicial review of that decision.
The Ontario Divisional Court granted intervenor status to the OUTlaws and Out On Bay Street on September 24, 2014 (you can read our factum requesting interven0r status here). We made 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 underscoring LSUC’s decision to deny TWU’s request for accreditation. You can read the factum of Out On Bay Street and the OUTlaws here.
The application for judicial review was heard by the court from June 1-4, 2015. In July 2015, the unanimous court dismissed the application (read the full decision here), ruling to uphold LSUC’s decision not to accredit TWU. The decision reflects the important contributions of our organization to this proceeding, while at the same time lending compelling judicial voice
Out On Bay Street and the OUTlaws represent the interests of LGBTQ students – the constituency at the heart of this dispute. The purpose of this fundraising campaign is to support our participation in this legal proceeding to ensure this group is heard on this important equality issue.
TWU is presently seeking leave to appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal, and OUTlaws and Out On Bay Street need your support in order to move their intervention forward to the next level!
Who We Are
Out On Bay Street and 4 OUTlaws groups are intervening together in this dispute.
The OUTlaws are a network of LGBTQ and Ally affinity groups at Canadian law schools. The OUTlaws work to advance the interests of LGBTQ students by fostering mentorship relationships with members of the LGBTQ legal community, advocating on legal issues impacting the LGBTQ community, making law schools a safer space for LGBTQ individuals, and making legal education more inclusive for LGBTQ students. OUTlaws groups at Osgoode Hall Law School, Queen’s University, the University of Windsor, and the University of Toronto are intervening with Out On Bay Street. There are 11 other OUTlaws chapters across Canada, and hundreds of members and alumni across the country.
Out On Bay Street is a non-profit that facilitates the professional development of LGBTQ students as they transition from school to career. Founded in 2007, Out On Bay’s primary service community consists of LGBTQ students in law schools and business schools. Its year-round programming consists of an annual conference and career fair, an awards series, monthly networking sessions, and a speaker series. At its core, the organization is concerned with promoting workplace diversity and inclusion for LGBTQ individuals.
You can learn more about our organizations in our motion record.
Use of Funds
We have been very fortunate to retain the pro bono assistance of the law firm Goldblatt Partners LLP and lawyer Paul Jonathan Saguil to represent us in this proceeding. As such, we are only raising funds to cover administrative costs, court expenses, and other disbursements that arise in the process.
The court has stipulated that, as an intervener, no costs will be awarded for or against us. Our organizations are entirely volunteer-driven and have no other means of covering the anticipated costs.
News Coverage of Our Case
July 3, 2015
Ontario court upholds LSUC’s denial of TWU accreditation
Canadian Lawyer Magazine
July 2, 2015
Trinity Western’s planned law school takes another hit
July 2, 2015
Ontario law society’s decision to refuse Trinity Western accreditation upheld
The Globe and Mail
July 2, 2015
Ontario court finds Trinity Western covenant discriminatory
July 2, 2015
Ontario court upholds Law Society’s decision not to accredit Trinity Western University
The Toronto Star
May 31, 2015
B.C. fundamentalist university to challenge Ontario law society decision
The Globe and Mail\
May 14, 2015
Barring evangelical law school’s graduates ‘not reasonable,’ argues federal government
May 4, 2015
TWU decision unreasonable, federal government argues
November 11, 2014
Law students as B.C. government to rescind TWU approval
November 7, 2014
OUTlaws want B.C. government to reverse TWU law degree approval
October 1, 2014
Out on Bay, OUTlaws Named Interveners in TWU Hearing
Paralegal Scope Magazine
September 30, 2014
Toronto LGBT groups see court action
September 29, 2014
See no students, hear no students: Are law societies listening to us?
August 27, 2014
LGBT groups seek intervenor status in Trinity Western case
May 5, 2014
TWU believers bear false witness
CBA National Magazine
** Further links and resources are available at http://www.outonbayst.org/TWU.
Out On Bay Street’s website contains copies of all of our court filings and links to other relevant documents and information. Click here to view these resources.