'Striking the Right Balance: Rethinking the Contest between Freedom of Religion and Equality Rights in Trinity Western University v. The Law Society of British Columbia'

Faculty Author Type

Emeritus Faculty [Robin Elliot]

Published In

University of British Columbia Law Review

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



freedom of religion; the right to equality; judicial review


This paper is a critical look at the holding of the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Trinity Western University v The Law Society of British Columbia that freedom of religion obliged the Law Society of British Columbia to approve Trinity Western University’s proposed new law school. The authors argue that that holding was wrong, and for a number of reasons. They contend that it was wrong in its characterization of the freedom of religion interest invoked by TWU; wrong in its assessment of the seriousness of the infringement on freedom of religion resulting from the Law Society’s refusal to approve TWU’s new law school; wrong in both its characterization of the equality interest of members of the LGBTQ community invoked by the Law Society and in its assessment of the importance of that equality interest; and wrong in concluding that the balance of the competing interests of freedom of religion and equality in the context in question fell in favour of the former. Each of these contentions is developed separately and at some length, with significant reliance being placed inter alia on a number of relevant Supreme Court of Canada judgments to which the authors argue the Court of Appeal gave either no or insufficient attention.