The Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruling in favour of Trinity Western University discriminatory views on gays has the unfortunate result that human rights are ignored once more. TWU requires students and staff sign a covenant agreement to agree not to engage in same-sex sexual activities.
Various provincial courts are in the midst of determining what is fair.
This is a sad day for our province as this decision has far-reaching consequences for the gay community. The court ruled that the N.S. Barristers Association does not have the right to refuse graduates from TWUs proposed law school.
I see this as a potential for discrimination by these future students. If they agree to sign such a document then it seems they are in agreement with such views. If not, then I assume they would not enter a school where such discrimination against gays is so prominent.
To state that a graduate from TWU would not necessarily refuse to take on a gay client is totally unreasonable as he/she has already indicated and signed a document that clearly discriminates and decidedly homophobic.
The Nova Scotia Human Rights Act states that it is prohibited to discriminate against an individual or class of individuals on account of sexual orientation. It is clear that Nova Scotia’s highest court does not take this act into consideration.
In a country where we pride ourselves as a front-runner on human rights and many other aspects of a caring nation, we would expect a country where we practice respect and let people live with dignity and in peace.
We must accept our differences and not exclude, but embrace diversity and when that is broken a decidedly disappointing turn affects our total wellbeing. Do we enjoy equal rights and equal treatment for all? I think not, as the ruling is clearly in conflict with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act.
Gays have been persecuted through the centuries, and even as we have protection under the law, it seems we must continue the journey in order to be recognized by our courts. The ruling in this province is a huge step backward for equality as it promotes further intolerance and is in contrast with Canadian values.
The fight for equality continues and since religious freedom trumps human rights, the future remains uncertain. Perhaps the Nova Scotia Barristers Society will take this a step further and keep up the fight against discrimination against the gay community.
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Gerard Veldhoven is a former Amherst resident who is a long time activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears weekly in The Amherst News.