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Paige Thombs is a PhD student in the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria. She is also an Osgoode Hall Visiting Scholar in Toronto. Paige is Barry’s guest on this installment of Freedom Feature. Her research looks at how religious identity shapes legal practice.
Paige describes herself as “very left-leaning and openly gay” and one who “very much believes in religious freedom”. She does not see her “rights as a gay person being in conflict with” a Christian’s rights. She asks, “is there no space where these two sets of rights can exist in tandem?”
She is interested in the intersection of religion and law over the last 50 years. As a non-lawyer she sees that the legal profession, especially in the last ten years, has been keen to appreciate lawyers’ personal characteristics such as gender, and sexual orientation but ignores what a lawyers’ faith perspective may bring to the law.
Paige sees a shift in Charter rights and human rights law that concerns her. She observes that rights are supposed to run side by side with no right getting more attention or privilege than another. “It just doesn’t seem to exist that way.” While she admits that her rights as a woman and as a gay person has improved her life she is bothered about where it is leading. “I have become increasingly uncomfortable by the idea that my rights are now at the top of the heap over and above the rights of many others. I don’t want my rights to overshadow somebody else’s rights – like a person who might be conservative and religious. There has to be a way for these two sets of values to coexist.”
Despite their different views on religion Paige and Barry have a very engaging and enlightening conversation about the state of openness in Canadian society and in universities for conservative thought. Returning to university after being out for 23 years and Paige expected university to be even more open to new ideas and discussion. Unfortunately, she found it to be opposite. Indeed, “there is not a lot of space for what would be considered unpopular opinions. By unpopular opinions I mean those considered conservative in nature. There is no space for that.”
How to live together despite our differences is a theme of this very interesting discussion.
Please note the views expressed by the individual(s) in this video are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views or principles of the First Freedoms Foundation.