B.C. Christian university drops sex covenant criticized as discriminatory

Published Aug. 14, 2018 3:11 p.m. ET
Updated Aug. 14, 2018 3:16 p.m. ET
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A Christian university in British Columbia has decided to drop a requirement that students sign a “community covenant” that forced them to abstain from sex outside heterosexual marriage.

Trinity Western University’s board of governors passed a motion last week that states: “In furtherance of our desire to maintain TWU as a thriving community of Christian believers that is inclusive of all students wishing to learn from a Christian viewpoint and underlying philosophy, the Community Covenant will no longer be mandatory as of the 2018-19 Academic year with respect to admission of students to, for continuation of students at, the University.”

Trinity Western planned to open a law school in 2012 but law societies in B.C. and Ontario said they would refuse to allow its graduates to practice due to a requirement that they argued was discriminatory against non-heterosexual students.

The school argued for years that its religious freedom was being infringed, but the Supreme Court of Canada sided in June this year with the law societies in a 7-2 decision. “A mandatory covenant is not absolutely required to study law in a Christian environment,” the court said.

Earl Phillips, executive director of the proposed law school, said at the time that decision meant that “diversity in Canada does not have room for a small law school at a Christian university.”

Matthew Wigmore, a former student who came out as gay in his second year at the Langley-based school, said Tuesday that the board’s decision is a good first step.

“It’s great that LGBTQ students don’t have to worry about being kicked out, or at the very least challenging their integrity,” Wigmore told CTV Vancouver.

“But it by no means is this the end of a lot of things that need to happen in order for there to be better accommodation on campus,” he added.

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