Victory today for LGBTQ rights from the Supreme Court of Canada in Trinity Western University law school decision

June 15, 2018 – Frances Mahon is delighted to announce that the Supreme Court of Canada delivered a profound victory for the LGBTQ community today, confirming the Law Societies of Ontario and British Columbia’s refusal to accredit Trinity Western University’s proposed school of law. The majority of the Court held that the mandatory nature of TWU’s Community Covenant, which prohibits sexual conduct that “violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman” on pain of suspension or expulsion, created a risk of significant harm to LGBTQ persons. Although TWU’s religious freedom was engaged by the Law Societies’ decisions, the importance of ensuring that LGBTQ students have the same options for law school, and the importance of promoting diversity in the legal profession, meant that the Law Societies were entitled to refuse accreditation to TWU’s discriminatory law school.

Frances was honoured to represent the Start Proud and the OUTlaws at all levels of court, advancing the equality interests of LGBTQ law students and prospective law students by arguing for equal access to law schools and the removal of discriminatory barriers to entry into the legal profession. Start Proud and the OUTlaws’ contribution to the decision was specifically noted by the Court, which adopted our argument that “[a]ttending TWU’s law school would mean that LGBTQ students would have to deny a crucial component of their identity in the most private and personal of spaces for three years in order to receive a legal education” (BC Decision, para. 96).

Read Start Proud and the OUTlaws’ written argument for the Supreme Court of Canada here. Watch Frances’ oral argument before the Court here. The decisions of the Court may be read here and here.

A core part of Frances’ law practice is representing interveners and applicants in important constitutional cases. Read more about her work in Charter and public interest litigation here.

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