Ontario’s New Definition of “Equality”!!!

How did B.C.’s appeal court reach a different conclusion than Ontario’s in the Trinity Western case? By rejecting the principle of factional superiority ironically proposed in Orwell’s analysis of fascist dictatorships, “Animal Farm.”

Ontario’s court approved a description of the Law Society’s historical mandate “ to remove all barriers to entry to the legal profession save one – merit,” but then concluded ensuring equal access to the profession justified erecting barriers to entry based upon religious affiliation, regardless of merit, by hindering access to applicants affiliated with the Trinity Western religious community.

This now gives Ontario authorities power to prohibit peaceful religious beliefs and to dictate that individuals are no longer free to associate together with like-minded others who share such beliefs. Instead they are compelled to admit into their church community those who reject their beliefs.

Ontario’s court accepted that “LGBTQ persons applying to TWU, or who come out while at TWU, will experience the stigma of not belonging and other destructive effects of regulating queer sexuality,” and that requiring those who join the Trinity Western church community to accept the beliefs of that community, including recognition of union between one man and one woman as uniquely sacred, “is deeply discriminatory to the LGBTQ community, and it hurts.”

This ignores the equally valid facts that, under its ruling, people who believe that union between one man and one woman is uniquely sacred will experience the same stigma of not belonging and other destructive effects of regulating religious belief and that exclusion of their graduates without regard to merit is deeply discriminatory to the Trinity Western community, and others, and it hurts.

LGBTQ communities are not neutral concerning what religion demands about marriage. They advocate that unique sacredness of union between one man and one woman is non-existent or irrelevant. By advocating for exclusion from the legal profession of those who disagree with that religious view, they reject diversity and inclusiveness

Ontario’s ruling established that while individuals or communities may be equal, those who believe there’s nothing uniquely sacred about a union between one man and one woman are “more equal” than those with a different view.

True equality assigns equal worth and dignity to everyone regardless of their beliefs. That definition of equality has been rejected by Ontario in favour of Orwell’s more ironic one of preferential treatment of one faction over others.

Conflict between non-discrimination and freedom of religion is a false dichotomy. The conflict at Trinity Western is instead between two communities with differing religious views about marriage. Equality permits everyone to hold their own beliefs and associate freely with like-minded others. True equality doesn’t coerce one community into accepting the contradictory beliefs of another. True equality doesn’t forbid one community, but not others, from associating with people who share common religious views.

That’s the definition of equality accepted in B.C. but rejected in Ontario in favour of Orwell’s ironic definition of preferential treatment of one faction over another.

Church members who believe union between one man and one woman is uniquely sacred not only suffer the stigma of exclusion under Ontario’s decision, but also the indignity of inability to practice their livelihood and disqualification from representing their church community in courts, significant consequences flowing from discrimination against graduates based on their religious affiliation and based on the views of their church.

It’s ironic the Law Society denies access to a public judicial system that should be open to all
in order to coerce a private church community which should be free to determine its own religious beliefs.

Before the Ontario Court’s new definition of equality, state coercion forcing people to abandon religious beliefs or prohibiting associations of like-minded individuals was strictly limited by guidelines requiring accommodation of non-conformity to the greatest extent possible.

Communists could form political parties, no matter who was upset by their beliefs. People could wear non-uniform religious headgear, even though the patriotic feelings of some were hurt. People could assemble to engage in sexual practices of choice in “swingers’ clubs,” even if that offended others. They were all free from state coercion.

Coercing the Trinity Western church, by excluding their graduates from legal livelihood and from access to the judicial system, to abandon peaceful religious beliefs about marriage or to admit into their association those who reject their beliefs, moves in the opposite direction. The Ontario Court gives authorities coercive power to declare some people “more equal than others” (and some “less equal”).

The Ontario Court concludes the Law Society’s adoption of Orwell’s ironic definition of equality is “reasonable.” Fortunately for B.C., their appeal court rejected that view. Do you agree?

If you conclude that the Orwellian definition of equality is unreasonable, make your voice heard. Even if you disagree with the Trinity Western’s beliefs you, too, may one day find yourself among those deemed “less equal,” suffering state coercion imposed by those who are “more equal than others.”

STEPHEN WOODWORTH

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