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Law & Religion UK is intended as a forum for what we hope is academically-rigorous exploration of the interactions between law and religion, together with the associated human rights issues. We welcome pertinent guest posts and comments on current developments that reflect the views and opinions of their respective authors and meet the General Conditions applying to the site. Those that do not meet these criteria or which are otherwise unidentifiable are unlikely to be published, especially comments that are abusive or defamatory.

Frank Cranmer and David Pocklington

 

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Opposite-sex civil partnerships? Steinfeld & Anor in the Court of Appeal

S 1(1) Civil Partnership Act 2004 stipulates that only a same-sex couple may conclude a civil partnership: “A civil partnership is a relationship between two people of the same sex…”. In June 2014 the Coalition Government published the results of its second consultation on the future of civil partnership: Civil Partnership Review (England and Wales) – Report on Conclusions. After considering the responses to that consultation, the Government decided that it would not be making any changes at present.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan were refused permission to register a civil partnership at Chelsea Town Hall registry office and sought a declaration that, as a result of the enactment of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, the bar in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 on opposite-sex couples registering as civil partners had become incompatible with Article 14 ECHR (discrimination) taken in conjunction with Article 8 (respect for private and family life). Their claim for a declaration of incompatibility was unsuccessful at first instance: see Steinfeld & Anor v The Secretary of State for Education [2016] EWHC 128 (Admin) and Adam Wagner’s very helpful summary on RightsInfo. On appeal, they lost by two to one. Continue reading

Lords Brexit debate: Bishop of Southwark

Second Reading of “Brexit Bill”: Speech of  the Bishop of Southwark

The first day of the House of Lords Second Reading of the European Union (Notification for Withdrawal) Bill commenced on Monday 20 February; over 190 of their Lordships had indicated their intention to speak, including the Lord Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, whose speech is reproduced below, [emphasis added]: Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 19th February

A week dominated by THAT vote in Synod…

The week in Synod

The Rt Rev David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, prefaced the week with a tweet:

“For half term week the C of E sets up a special holiday club called Synod, where we try to play nicely with all the other girls and boys”.

Whether they did “play nicely” was not easy to discern; Continue reading

The EU, tax exemptions for Church schools and the prohibition on State aid

An agreement between Spain and the Vatican dating from before Spain’s accession to the EU provides for various tax exemptions for the Roman Catholic Church. In Congregación de Escuelas Pías Provincia Betania v Ayuntamiento de Getafe C-74/16, the Church, relying on that agreement, seeks repayment of municipal tax amounting to €23,000 levied in respect of building work on La Inmaculada school, near Madrid. The building is used predominantly for compulsory education – which is equivalent to the education provided by State schools and the major part of which is financed by public funds – but it is also used for voluntary education, for which the Church charges a fee. The domestic court asked the CJEU for an opinion on the following question:

“Is the exemption of the Catholic Church from the tax on constructions, installations and works contrary to Article 107(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, where the exemption relates to work on buildings intended to be used for economic activities that do not have a strictly religious purpose?” [19]. Continue reading

Next step after Synod Vote – Archbishops’ letter

Further to the Press Release from the Church of England and the Statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury, issued after the rejection by General Synod of the “take note” motion on the House of Bishops’ Report, the Archbishops of York and Canterbury have written to members of the Synod setting out the next steps. A copy of the Press Release is reproduced below. Continue reading

Legislative Business II – General Synod

Additional Legislative Business at General Synod

An earlier post contained details of the legislative business conducted by General Synod in its group of sessions on Tuesday 14 February. In addition to the “take note” debate on the House of Bishops’ Report, here, further legislative issues were considered on Wednesday 15 February, and the Church’s Press Release is reproduced below. Continue reading