Law and religion round-up – 22nd October

A week in which the main theme seemed to be discrimination on grounds of gender or sexual orientation

Church of England to debate blessings for same-sex couples?

Last week, as we noted, the Hereford Diocesan Synod passed a resolution requesting the House of Bishops to initiate the formulation of a discretionary liturgy for use following the registration of a civil partnership or a same-sex marriage. The BBC subsequently reported this under the headline Church of England to discuss same-sex blessing, stating that “The general synod will now debate a form of service described as ‘neither contrary to nor a departure from’ the doctrine of the church”. Continue reading

Gender, religious belief and discrimination in service provision

On Sunday, there were various media reports that a Southampton-based printer, Nigel Williams, had refused to produce business cards for Joanne Lockwood, a trans woman who works as a transgender diversity consultant; the reason stated for this refusal was that Mr Williams did not want to promote a cause that he felt might harm his fellow Christian believers.
Continue reading

Being Boring – How Bureaucrats Determine Religious Freedom

In this guest post, cross-posted with permission from Religion Going Public, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Oslo Faculty of Theology, explains that “Civil servants determine the shape and scope of religion in every section of society. Here’s how they get away with it.”

The literature and news cycles on religious freedom tend to be dominated by big, principally important cases, where the foundational principles of liberal democracy are in the balance. Continue reading

Another Romanian church property dispute: Orăştie

Yet another property dispute between the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church and the Romanian Orthodox Church.

In Orăştie Romanian Greek Catholic Archpriesthood United to Rome and Orăştie Romanian Greek Catholic Parish United to Rome v Romania [2017] ECHR 913 [in French], the applicants sought the restitution of their church, which had been expropriated by the Communist regime and handed over to the Orthodox in 1948. They were unsuccessful before the domestic courts [7-17], the High Court of Cassation and Justice noting that 90.71% of the population of Orăştie was Orthodox and 1.02% Greek-Catholic [16]. Continue reading

Conscientious objection again: Adyan v Armenia

In Adyan and Ors v Armenia [2017] ECHR 882, four Jehovah’s Witnesses had been convicted and imprisoned for refusing to perform either military or alternative civilian service.

Background

In May and June 2011 they were called up for military service but refused to appear either for military or for alternative civilian service under the terms of the Alternative Service Act, declaring their opposition based on their religious beliefs. Furthermore, even though domestic law provided for alternative service, they claimed that it was not of a genuinely civilian nature because it was supervised by the military. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 15th October

Sero sed serio…

… as until Friday, we thought it was going to be a quiet week for news, despite the MPs’ return to Parliament after the break for Party Conferences. In addition to our Saturday posts on Sex segregation in school, and the disposal of Ian Brady’s remains, reviewed below, shortly after the publication of this round-up, the Church of England issued a statement concerning the meditation that had taken place with the sexual abuse survivor known as “Gilo”; this prompted a response from Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc.

Sex segregation in school

On Friday, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services And Skills v The Interim Executive Board of Al-Hijrah School [2017] EWCA Civ 1426. The issue of principle before the Court was

“whether it is direct discrimination, contrary to sections 13 and 85 of the Equality Act 2010 for a mixed-sex school to have a complete segregation of male and female pupils over a certain age for all lessons, breaks, school clubs and trips” [1]. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 8th October

A typical eclectic mix of news from the world of law and religion…

Organ donation – presumed consent

One aspect of the Prime Minister’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference on Wednesday that received relatively little media attention was her announcement of plans to move to a system of presumed consent for organ donation under which everyone would be presumed to agree to the removal and reuse of body parts after their death unless they opted out, rather than the present situation in which it is necessary to opt in to organ donation. However, the issue is not straightforward and the approach of different faith groups to organ donation complicates the matter. Continue reading