HALIFAX — A lawyer for the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society says the self-regulating body has the authority to deny accreditation to law school graduates from a Christian university in British Columbia that requires students to abstain from sex outside heterosexual marriage.

Marjorie Hickey told a Nova Scotia Supreme Court hearing today that the law society draws its authority from a section in the Legal Profession Act that says the purpose of the society is to uphold and protect the public interest in the practice of law.

Hickey says the law society has broader powers than just overseeing the qualifications and conduct of its members.

She says the law society imposed the ban on students from a proposed law school at Trinity Western University because its requirement regarding heterosexual marriage represents unlawful discrimination under the charter and violates the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act.

Earlier this week, a lawyer for the university told the court the law society overstepped its jurisdiction when it decided in April to ban graduates from the bar admission program unless the school dropped the requirement.

Brian Casey said the law society has jurisdiction over its membership in Nova Scotia, nothing more.

He suggested the court should overturn the law society’s regulation on the grounds that it infringes on future students’ charter rights of freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of association.