Overturning provincial approval of Trinity Western's law school would be discriminatory, says university president in response to proposed lawsuit

Bob Kuhn, President of Trinity Western University
TWU President Bob Kuhn says that the school's ban on same-sex intimacy is protected under the Charter’s freedom of religion

By Daniel Fish

On Wednesday March 19th, 2014


A proposed lawsuit that seeks to overturn the approval of the law school at Trinity Western University, which forbids same-sex intimacy, infringes upon the school’s freedom of religion, says Bob Kuhn, the university’s president.

Trinity Western requires all of its students to sign a community covenant that asks students to abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Still, its proposed law school earned provincial approval in December (the Law Society of B.C. has not yet made a decision on whether TWU law graduates will be accredited).

Toronto lawyer Angela Chaisson is planning to sue the British Columbia government for that approval because, as she explains, when the government “accredits law schools, it has an obligation to take the Charter into account.”

Kuhn agrees that the B.C government, unlike a private university, does have to factor the Charter into its decisions, but he argues the Charter is on his side.

“The definition of marriage in a Christian context is pretty clear, historically, for thousands of years,” he says. “To suggest that the community cannot hold that view — it seems to me that that’s the height of discrimination.”

He also says that if Trinity Western, in order to have a law school, has to amend its community covenant, this would create an “impoverished view of freedom of religion.”

“Nobody can be stopped from believing what they want,” he says, “but it’s only when you act on that belief that it has any meaning.”

Moreover, Kuhn says students in same-sex relationships would not want to attend Trinity Western’s law school in the first place.

“You’ve got to look at it realistically and say, ‘How many gay couples are going to want to come to the Trinity Western law school and become part of our community?’”

Precedent profiled Angela Chaisson as the first in our series on Badass Lawyers. Following the publication of that story on lawandstyle.ca, Bob Kuhn contacted Precedent to offer a response.