Law and religion round-up – 7th January

Marriage and parochial fees, Gift Aid, Scientologists, hijabs, Brexit – and priority for Buddhist monks…

Marriage certificates

The Sunday Times reported (£) on New Year’s Eve that the Home Office is likely to approve the inclusion of mothers’ names on marriage certificates. According to the report, “A Home Office source told The Sunday Times the proposal had been ‘signed off’, and a spokeswoman confirmed that it wanted to include mothers’ details. These will also appear on civil partnership certificates.”

The issue is currently the subject of two identical private Member’s bills tabled by Dame Caroline Spelman in the Commons and by the Bishop of St Albans in the Lords. The Lords bill is to have its second reading debate on 26 January.

“Get me to the church on time”

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

Law and religion round-up – 17th December

“There is a proper role for referendums in constitutional change, but only if done properly. If it is not done properly, it can be a dangerous tool”

David Davis, Hansard  2002

That vote on Amendment 7

Returning briefly to Brexit since our last foray in August, Wednesday’s vote is notable in that it is the Government’s first defeat on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. The impact of the amendment is that clause 9(1) now reads Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 4th September

A week dominated by headlines about ‘bouncers’ in churches (which we reported) and the C of E and sexuality (which we did not, until now) …

… and which, thankfully, marks the end of the “silly season” for news stories. However, St Chrysostom’s blog has provided us (and coincidentally, Thinking Anglicans) with one last example – Unusual names of the Anglo Catholic clergy – which complements its earlier On the names of Bishops.

Security in places of worship

Last week, National Churchwatch – a multi-faith organisation dedicated to reducing crime in places of worship – produced a helpful guidance note on Counter Terrorism Advice for Churches which caused some rather sensationalist reactions in the media: the Telegraph reported it as “Vicars told churches should have ‘bouncers’ due to terror fears”. There was also an element of confusion that it was advice from the Home Office – which it was not: the author is  Nick Tolson, Director of National Churchwatch, a former police officer who advises the Home Office’s places of worship security committee. But the headlines did make us start to wonder about the possibility of the Western Church restoring a redesigned Minor Order of “Doorkeeper and Bouncer”. We noted the guidance here.

Banning the burqa in the UK? Continue reading

LGBTI apology from Archbishops

Today the Church of England published the following reply by the Archbishop of York on behalf of himself and the Archbishop of Canterbury to the letter from Jayne Ozanne and co-signatories which called for an acknowledgement of the Church’s failure in a “duty of care” to LGBTI members of the body of Christ around the world, and for repentance foe accepting and promoting discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.

“Reply to letter from Jayne Ozanne and co-signatories

16 February 2016

The Church of England has today published a response of the Archbishops of York and Canterbury to the letter received from Jayne Ozanne and co-signatories from January of this year.

A pdf of the Archbishops’ letter is here.”


In reply Jayne Ozanne ‏@JayneOzanne tweeted:

“Full response from @JustinWelby & @JohnSentamu welcomed by original 105 signatories to their letter calling for LGBTI apology @cofe @synod

Military Chapels and same sex marriage

Slow progress in this area was anticipated by both Houses when the Regulations were debated last year

On 7 December, Madeleine Moon (Bridgend)(Lab) asked the following “Named day” question on religious buildings on military bases, [18992]:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many military chapels there are in England and Wales; and how many such chapels are registered to conduct (a) same-sex and (b) other marriages”.

In reply, the Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces), Penny Mordaunt, (Portsmouth North) (Con) answered on 14 December:

“There are 190 military chapels in England and Wales registered for marriages under the rites of Church of England or otherwise, as described under sections 69 and 70 [respectively] of the 1949 Marriage Act. The Ministry of Defence allows same-sex marriages in military chapels, but none of the Sending Churches [Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Church of Scotland, Presbyterian, Baptist Union, United Reformed, Congregational, Free Church of Scotland, Elim Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, Salvation Army] using the chapels currently allows same-sex marriages to be conducted there. I have asked the Chaplaincies of the three Services to advise me on how Parliament’s sanction of same sex-marriages may be fully implemented”. Continue reading

Religion and law round-up – 2nd August

Not much hard law this week (apart from a case we can’t find) but quite a bit of speculation about an initiation rite for transgender people and a possible accidental ban on incense…

Autopsy and religion

Earlier this week, in the Administrative Court, Mitting J ruled in Charles Rotsztein v HM Senior Coroner for Inner London [2015] that where there was an “established religious tenet” against an invasive autopsy, it should be avoided so long as there was a “realistic possibility” that a non-invasive autopsy, such as a CT scan or blood culture, would establish cause of death. However, coroners must still be able to fulfil the legal obligation to establish cause of death to the best of their ability and the non-invasive procedures should be done “without imposing an additional cost burden on the coroner”.

The judgment was delivered orally. If and when we see a copy of the judgment we shall post a summary.

Incense as an illegal high?

We posted on the concern expressed by Baroness Hamwee in the recent House of Lords debate that one (presumably unintended) effect of the Psychoactive Substances Bill might be to make the use of incense in churches illegal. Continue reading