NEWS
04/24/2014 07:20 EDT | Updated 06/24/2014 05:59 EDT

Trinity Western law school rejected by Ontario law society

The Law Society of Upper Canada has voted 28 to 21 against the accreditation of Trinity Western University's proposed new law school in B.C.

The vote means graduates from the B.C. university would not be able to practise in Ontario.

“Benchers took this issue very seriously, and did not find it easy to reach a decision,” said the Law Society of Upper Canada's treasurer, in a written statement.

“As members of the legal profession, we recognize the entrenched values of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Ontario’s Human Rights Code, including the right of equality and the right to freedom of religion, and the foundational nature of those rights to our democracy.”

Trinity Western University students must sign a strict Christian covenant governing behaviour, including abstaining from sexual intimacy "that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman."

Critics say the covenant essentially bans anyone in a gay relationship from enrolling in the school.

Earlier this month, the West Coast Legal Education Action Fund, a non-profit organization founded to ensure women's equality rights under the law, argued against the university law school's accreditation in B.C.

But the B.C. Law Society voted to accredit the school. 

B.C. Law Society decision challenged

However, that fight isn't over.

Victoria criminal lawyer Michael Mulligan is attempting to trigger a rare special general B.C. Law Society meeting to overturn the decision.

Mulligan believes the vast majority of lawyers take issue with the university's covenant.

Mulligan says it is at odds with a core principle of the lawyer's oath to uphold the rights and freedoms of all according to the law.

In December, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada gave Trinity Western University preliminary approval for its law school program and said it was up to provincial law societies to decide whether to recognize degrees from the school.