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Trinity Western University president will speak at special law society meeting Tuesday

A special Tuesday meeting of the Law Society of B.C. to decide the fate of the planned Trinity Western University (TWU) law school will hear from university president Bob Kuhn.

Kuhn, an Abbotsford lawyer, was expected to argue freedom of religion was being violated by a proposal to withdraw the recent approval of the law school by the Law Society, the body that regulates the legal profession in B.C.

If that approval is reversed, it would prevent Trinity law school graduates from working in this province.

Critics have complained a university requirement that staff and students promise they won’t engage in “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman” is anti-gay, and conflicts with a lawyer’s responsibility to uphold the rights and freedoms of all persons.

The approval of the school by the directors of the Law Society of B.C. is being challenged by Victoria lawyer Michael Mulligan, who collected more than 1,300 written requests in just over a week, double the number required to force a special general meeting.

The special Law Society of B.C, meeting is scheduled for multiple sites in Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria, Nanaimo, Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George, Dawson Creek, Castlegar, Cranbrook, Prince Rupert, Smithers and Terrace, all linked by telephone.

A vote is not expected until late in the day,

A resolution passed at a general meeting is not binding on law society directors unless one-third of the more than 10,000 lawyers in B.C. have voted and have approved the resolution by a two-thirds majority.

The Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) and the Nova Scotia Barristers Society (NSBS) recently voted against allowing Trinity law school graduates to practise law in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

The university is seeking court orders to overturn those decisions, and is expected to do the same if the B.C. society reverse its approval.

In 2001, TWU won a court battle over a similar issue with the B.C. College of Teachers.

The College of Teachers was refusing to allow the university to assume full responsibility for its teacher training because the TWU Community Standards at the time had a list of “practices that are biblically condemned” that mentioned “sexual sins including … homosexual behaviour.”

In an 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada declared that TWU “is a private institution that is exempted, in part, from the B.C. human rights legislation and to which the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not apply.”

Kuhn happens to be the lawyer who won that case.

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