The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled in favor of an evangelical Christian school that refused admission to a child of a same-sex couple.
An evangelical grade school that does not receive government funding has rejected the application of a lesbian couple for their adopted child to be admitted to a preschool program.
During a meeting with the school principal, one of the child's parents was told that their same-sex marriage would clash with the school's teachings, including the biblical belief that marriage is between a woman and a man.
The lesbian couple sued the school for discrimination, but the tribunal ruled that the school had the legal right to limit who attends the school, based on section 18 of the Human Rights Code.
"The school has a well-defined and specific set of creedal beliefs, mission statement and mandate. The respondent's evidence was clear that the school requires all parents to share these values if they are considering the school for their family," the ruling stated as reported by Law Times.
"While I empathize with the parents' feelings of unfairness that their child would not be admitted, the respondent made no secret of its beliefs and was upfront that it may not be the right fit for every family," it added.
The Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on basis of sexual orientation but it excludes any "religious, philanthropic, educational, fraternal or social institution or organization that is primarily engaged in serving the interests of persons identified by a prohibited ground of discrimination."
The school, identified in the lawsuit as "The Private Academy," has a handbook explaining its policies and parents of students are required to sign a statement of faith.
Angela Chaisson, a lawyer in Toronto who was not involved in the case, alleged that the school is using section 18 of the Human Rights Code as a "cover" for discriminating against homosexuals, noting that it does not reject people who have had divorces or abortions.
The school maintained that it is a private religious institution that integrates biblical teaching into every subject including, the belief in the sanctity of innocent human life from conception and that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.
The academy's trustees and administration had only turned down three applicants in the last two decades. In the first case, the parents were rejected because they did not attend any church. The second case was because the parents were not married but involved in open fornication. In the third case, the applicants were open homosexuals, who later withdrew their application voluntarily.
The lesbian couple had claimed that they had no problem with the school teaching their adopted child about beliefs that are inconsistent with their own practices.
Ontario Minister of Education press secretary Richard Francella said that the government is currently reviewing the decision, noting that the tribunal operates independently of the government.