TWU’s Langley law school faces court challenge

An openly gay Vancouver park board commissioner is trying to force the provincial government to revoke the accreditation for the “segregated” law school planned for Langley’s Trinity Western University. 

Trevor Loke filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday after Minister of Advanced Education Amrik Virk approved the private Christian university’s new school, which bans homosexual activity among students and faculty. 

Loke, who identifies himself as a Christian, claims the minister’s decision fosters a discriminatory policy, denies him access to one of the four law schools in the province, and violates his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “It’s akin to creating a segregated environment where some people are welcomed and some people are not,” Loke said. 

When the government accredited the program last December, Virk had said he was aware of public opposition, but because concerns were not about the quality of the degree or the academic programming, found them outside the government’s purview. 

Karey Brooks, one of the lawyers representing Loke in the challenge, said Virk failed to consider the equality provisions of the Charter in authorizing the degree program, something she called “shocking and deeply troubling.” “The members of Trinity Western have the right to their religious beliefs. They have a right if they want to… try to persuade students that something’s wrong with homosexuality. They’re entitled to do that,” said Brooks, a Vancouver-based lawyer with Janes Freedman Kyle. “But this is a government decision, and the government is not entitled, we say, to approve that view.” 

She said the law school included a discriminatory admissions policy that sends a clear message to prospective gay students that “they either have to give up their relationship and their sexual expression or they have to go back in the closet and lie about who they are, or they can’t access the school.” 

The minister’s decision, said Brooks, effectively excludes gay and lesbian people from accessing the resource that he is responsible for allocating. 

Virk said in a written statement that the government had until April 29 to respond to the petition, but he did not address the substance of the challenge. 

Trinity Western University president Bob Kuhn told The Sun he was disappointed because the challenge represented even more money being thrown at an issue he said has already been resolved. 

Kuhn said that if Loke were a student, he, like all common law partners, would need to abstain from sex under the school’s community covenant. 

“I don’t think it’s a question of excluding anybody, necessarily, but there will inevitably be some people who will choose, for any number of reasons … not to go to Trinity Western law school,” he said. 

Last year, Loke spearheaded a push to make parks and pools more inclusive of the LGBTQ community by creating unisex washrooms. 

– From the Vancouver Sun.

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