Hate-speech not protected by Article 10 ECHR: Belkacem v Belgium

In a unanimous judgment, the European Court of Human Rights has confirmed that hate-speech is not protected by the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 ECHR.

In Belkacem v Belgium [2017] ECHR No 34367/14 [in French], the applicant had been convicted of various infractions of Article 22 of the Law of 10 May 2007 on combating certain forms of discrimination: in particular, that he had posted videos on YouTube in which he was seen making grossly inflammatory statements about the then Minister of Defence of Belgium [4] and that he had harassed the husband of a Belgian politician after her death by posting a video saying that she would spend eternity in Hell [5]. Continue reading

Strasbourg upholds Belgian niqab ban: Belcacemi and Dakir

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled on two Belgian cases involving bans on wearing the niqab in public.

The background

In Belcacemi and Oussar v Belgium [2017] ECHR 655 [in French], the applicants – Ms Samia Belcacemi (a Belgian national) and Ms Yamina Oussar (a Moroccan national living in Belgium) – challenged the Belgian Law of 1 June 2011 banning the wearing in public places of clothing which partially or totally covers the face. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 9th July

Cake now off the Brexit menu…

…though not in the House of Lords for Pride 2017…

…but gluten-free is off the menu at Mass

Yesterday the BBC reported that the Vatican had ruled that the bread used in celebrations of the Eucharist must not be gluten-free. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 2nd July

From Hung Parliament to Bung Parliament…

…male Members without ties, and even more bishops.

Abortion in Northern Ireland

Last week, one year on from hearing oral argument, the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal overturned the ruling at first instance by Horner J in which he held that the abortion law in Northern Ireland was incompatible with the UK’s obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 in circumstances where the foetus had been diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality or where the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. Simultaneously, however, the BBC reported that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had announced in advance of a likely vote on the issue in the House of Commons that women from Northern Ireland would in future be able to obtain NHS terminations in England. We noted it all here. Continue reading

Conservative religious views, parental access, the ECHR – and blogging: A v Cornwall Council

In a rather unusual case, Dingemans J has had to consider whether the moral attitudes – as revealed by his blog posts – of a father who was estranged from the mother of his son supported the Family Court’s decision not to allow him parental access.

The background

In A v Cornwall Council [2017] EWHC 842 (QB), A believed that abortion and same-sex relationships were both wrong. A’s relationship with M had broken down and he was refused contact with their son, S. A claimed that the Council had prevented him having direct contact and had not supported his application to have S live with him because of the views he had blogged about abortion and same-sex marriage – and that the Council had violated his Convention rights. The Council denied the claim and said that it had conducted proper safeguarding inquiries about S and had made proper recommendations to the Family Court that had taken the relevant decisions [1]. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 16th April

“Till trump from east to west, shall wake the dead in number”

“This joyful Eastertide” 
George Ratcliffe Woodward and Charles Wood

Brexit

The European Commission has a new website devoted to Brexit, which will include everything from the latest speeches to official documents as they are published. The sub-section of the main Commission website currently has a chart of the Brexit task force and directs users to the Twitter account of EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, for the latest news.

Abortion and conscientious objection in Sweden

In November 2015 we noted the case of Ms Ellinor Grimmark, a Swedish midwife who objects to abortion because of her Christian beliefs. Continue reading

Freedom of speech, the Prevent duty and higher education

S 43 Education (No. 2) Act 1986 (Freedom of speech in universities, polytechnics and colleges) requires “Every individual and body of persons concerned in the government” of further and higher education institutions to “take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured” for staff, students and visiting speakers. The institutions must ensure, “so far as is reasonably practicable”, that use of the premises is not denied to anyone on any ground connected with their beliefs, views, policy or objectives. On the other hand, the Prevent duty in s 26 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 requires specified authorities – including relevant higher education bodies – to have due regard in the exercise of their functions to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. Continue reading