Trinity Western law school: B.C. advanced education minister revokes approval
School cannot enrol students in planned law program, mired in controversy over stance on homosexuality
Trinity Western University has lost the approval of the B.C. Advanced Education ministry for its proposed law school, which stirred up controversy for its stance on same-sex relationships.
B.C. Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk on Thursday withdrew the consent he had previously given to the private post-secondary institution in the Fraser Valley.
"Based on the current situation, I have decided to revoke my approval of the proposed law school at Trinity Western University," he said in an emailed statement. "This means the university cannot enrol any students in its proposed program."
Virk said he made his decision based on the B.C. Law Society's decision to deny accreditation to any potential graduates of the program.
"The current uncertainty over the status of the regulatory body approval means prospective graduates may not be able to be called to the bar, or practise law, in British Columbia. This is a significant change to the context in which I made my original decision," he added.
Trinity Western president Bob Kuhn said the university is disappointed with the decision.
"It is difficult to conceive of a justifiable basis for the minister to have revoked his approval of the school of law program," Kuhn said in a press release.
"We believe in diversity and the rights of all Canadians to their beliefs and values."
Trinity Western, which bills itself as the largest independent Christian liberal arts institution in Canada, requires its 3,600 students to sign a covenant abstaining from sexual intimacy "that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman."
Students and faculty of the proposed law school would have had to sign the covenant, which critics say is discriminatory against gays and lesbians and essentially bars anyone in a gay relationship from enrolling in the school.
The private institution wants to set up its law school in the province's so-called "Bible belt" in the Fraser Valley and open it in fall 2016.
"We remain committed to having a school of law and now have to carefully consider all our options," Kuhn said.
The ministry said once Trinity Western's legal issues are resolved, it has the option to renew its request for approval.