A federal judge in the US has ruled that the University of Iowa was wrong to penalise a student group for barring a gay student from a leadership role.
U.S. District Judge Stephanie M. Rose granted a permanent injunction on Wednesday, which will prevent the university from rejecting the group’s status in the future.
The group – which is called Business Leaders in Christ – say that membership is open to all students, but that leaders must reject homosexuality.
“Particularly when free speech is involved, the uneven application of any policy risks the most exacting standard of judicial scrutiny, which the defendants have failed to withstand.”
– Judge Stephanie M. Rose
When the group was sanctioned for stopping a gay student from having a leadership role, they sued the university and were represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
NBC News reports that the University of Iowa will adhere to the court’s ruling.
In her ruling, Rose said that the university had unevenly applied its human rights policy, and had allowed other groups to only admit certain members based on religion, race, sex and other characteristics.
“Particularly when free speech is involved, the uneven application of any policy risks the most exacting standard of judicial scrutiny, which the defendants have failed to withstand,” she said.
Business Leaders in Christ said they were happy with the outcome of the case.
Jake Estell, a member, said the victory “reinforces the commonsense idea that universities can’t target religious groups for being religious,” according to NBC News.
In December, the U.S. Justice Department filed a “statement of interest” and backed the group, saying the university had violated free speech and assembly rights.
Christian views towards LGBT+ people
The group’s website says they are “on a mission to create a community of followers of Christ within Tippie.”
“Through our organization, you will get to share and gain wisdom on how to practice business that is both Biblical and founded on God’s truth.
“We do this by reading scripture together, hosting Christian business professionals, and serving our community.”
Eric Baxter, vice president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said the victory was “a win for basic fairness.”
While progress has been made in many parts of the world in LGBT+ rights, most sects of Christianity continue to hold anti-LGBT+ views.
“Through our organization, you will get to share and gain wisdom on how to practice business that is both Biblical and founded on God’s truth.”
– Business Leaders in Christ
The Trump administration has drawn attention for its actions around LGBT+ people, with Vice President Mike Pence drawing particular criticism.
Just weeks ago, Lady Gaga called out Vice President Mike Pence, and said he was the “worst” Christian for his anti-LGBT+ views.
She took aim at Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, saying: “And to Mike Pence, who thinks it’s acceptable that his wife works at a school that bans LGBTQ – you’re wrong,” she said.
“You say we should not discriminate against Christianity.
“You are the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian.”