Law and religion round-up – 21st January

The Irish Parliament wrestles with abortion law and, as the new Dean is installed at Peterborough, the Church of England wrestles with cathedral governance 

The Irish abortion debate

Last week, Dáil Éireann considered the report of its Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution in light of the recommendation of the Citizens’ Assembly than the constitutional ban on abortion should be repealed. Continue reading

Compulsory sex education and Article 9 ECHR: AR & LR v Switzerland

Background

In 2011, a Basel primary school refused to grant Ms AR’s request that her daughter LR, then aged seven and about to move up to the second year of primary school, be exempted from sex education lessons.

In AR and LR v Switzerland [2018] (Application no 22338/15), relying on Article 8 § 1 (private and family life) Ms AR and Ms LR argued that there had been a violation of Ms AR’s right to respect for private and family life, and that Ms LR had been subjected to an unjustified interference with the exercise of her right to respect for her private life. They also complained of an infringement of their right to freedom of religion and conscience under Article 9 §1 and of a breach of Article 14 (discrimination) taken together with Articles 8 and 9. Continue reading

Sharia and inheritance in Western Thrace: Molla Sali

In Molla Sali v Greece (No. 20452/14) (which we noted briefly in April 2015) the applicant, Ms Chatitze Molla Sali, is a Greek national born in 1950 who lives in Komotini in Western Thrace. On the death of her husband, she inherited his entire estate under the terms of a will drawn up by him before a notary. His two sisters contested the will, on the grounds that their brother had belonged to the Muslim minority community in Western Thrace and that all matters relating to his estate were therefore subject to Islamic law and to the jurisdiction of the mufti rather than to the provisions of the Greek Civil Code. They relied in particular on the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres and the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which provided for Islamic customs and Islamic religious law to be applied to Greek nationals who were Muslims. Continue reading

Gender dysphoria, family breakdown and Ultra-Orthodox Judaism revisited

The Court of Appeal (Sir James Munby P and Arden and Singh LJJ) has handed down judgment in M (Children), Re [2017] EWCA Civ 2164.

The background

In January I reported on (and commented on) Peter Jackson J’s judgment in J v B (Ultra-Orthodox Judaism: Transgender) [2017] EWFC 4. The couple, who were members of the North Manchester Charedi Jewish community, ended their marriage in June 2015 when the father, J, left home to live as a woman. J then had no contact with the children because of the attitude of the Charedi community to transsexuals, though she sought to remain an Orthodox Jew, keeping kosher and attending the Orthodox synagogue when she could. She sought an order for contact from the Family Court. Continue reading

Lee v McArthur: the Gay Wedding Cake revisited

In a guest post, Dr Michael Arnheim, Barrister at Law and Sometime Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, offers another view of Lee v McArthur & Ors [2016] NICA 29 and the forthcoming appeal.

Introduction

What is the point of yet another article on the “Gay Wedding Cake” saga? Just this, that, having lost in two courts already, the Christian bakery owners are about to receive a final knock-out blow in the UK Supreme Court – unless their lawyers take off their gloves and go for the jugular. Up to now, their lawyers have fought their corner in a quiet, gentlemanly way – on their adversaries’ terms. It is time to challenge the whole very shaky basis of the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland.  Continue reading

Wearing religious symbols in court: Hamidović

in Hamidović v Bosnia and Herzegovina [2017] ECHR 1101, the European Court of Human Rights held, by six votes to one, that there had been a violation of Article 9 (thought, conscience and religion) ECHR.

The background

The applicant, Mr Hamidović, is a Muslim. In 2012 he was a witness in the criminal trial of Mr Mevlid Jašarević, a member of the local group advocating the Wahhabi/Salafi version of Islam. The judge ordered him to remove his skullcap and when he refused he was expelled from the courtroom and was subsequently convicted of contempt of court and fined [7]. Continue reading

Bosnia and Herzegovina: beards and police officers

The legal adviser to the appellant, Emir Kovačević, has provided this guest post on an interesting case on the right of public-sector workers to manifest their religion while in uniform.

The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in its decision No. U 8/17 of 30 November 2017, approved the appeal of Mr Safet Softić, deputy chairman of the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina against part of the uniform regulations for the Border Police. Continue reading