Do UK state pension rules disadvantage transsexuals?

In MB v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] UKSC 53 MB was born on 31 May 1948 and was registered at birth as a man. MB was married on 21 September 1974. In 1991 she began to live as a woman and in 1995 underwent sex reassignment surgery. MB had not applied for a gender recognition certificate since the Gender Recognition Act 2004 came into force because she and her wife continued to live together (and still do so) and wished to remain married: for religious reasons they were unwilling to have their marriage annulled and enter a civil partnership [13] – hence this post. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 31st July

A week in which a French priest was murdered while saying Mass and safeguarding was in the news on both sides of the Border…

Fr Jacques Hamel RIP

On Tuesday morning two men entered the church at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, and took five hostages: Fr Jacques Hamel, two nuns and two parishioners. They slit Fr Hamel’s throat as he was saying mass, after which they filmed themselves preaching in Arabic by the altar. According to the latest information on the Web, one of the freed hostages is still in a critical condition.

David is an Anglican in the Catholic tradition: Frank is a Quaker of the Unitarian-Universalist tendency. For both of us, however, there is something peculiarly repulsive in the cold-blooded murder of someone in church, at prayer. Or as Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, tweeted:

“Just when you were worried Europe was backsliding to 1930s, turns out it’s the 1130s. Solidarity with all people of goodwill .”

Security in the church

On Wednesday, the Home Office announced the Places of worship: security funding scheme for the provision of protective security measures for places of worship in England and Wales. The scheme is part of a wider cross-government Hate Crime Action Plan which sets out the government’s plan of actions to deal with hate crime until May 2020. It applies to England and Wales only. Bids for security funding can be made for the next 8 weeks until 5pm on 20 September 2016. A second round of bids will open in spring 2017. In parallel with this initiative, the National Police Chiefs’ Council has issued protective security advice specific to Christian places of worship which stated that while there is no specific intelligence relating at attacks against the Christian community in the UK, police are urging the community to be alert but not alarmed, report concerns to the police and review their security as a precaution. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 17th July

A week of unexpected events, from the premature election of a new Prime Minister to the tragic deaths in Nice and those in the attempted coup in Turkey…

Brexit Basics 4

When it seemed as though there was little else to be said about Brexit and we were contemplating pulling the plug on “Brexit Basics”, the dynamics changed again as a result of the election of Theresa May as Conservative Party Leader on 13 July. The unexpected timing, the subsequent Prime Ministerial appointments in the new government and the proposed rearrangements in Whitehall have added further uncertainty to the proceedings. These will be covered in Brexit Basics 4, to be issued early next week along with the supplement “Brexit means Brexit”, doesn’t it? in which we attempt to throw some light on this question. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 10th July

So it’s Theresa May vs Andrea Leadsom and Sir John Chilcot finally published the report of the Iraq Inquiry: meanwhile…

URC votes to solemnise same-sex marriage

Yesterday, Saturday 9 July, the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church voted to allow its local churches to conduct and register marriages for same-sex couples. A two-thirds majority was needed to confirm the proposal and the Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of the resolution, by 240 votes to 21. United Reformed churches in England and Wales wishing to register their buildings for the marriage of same-sex couples will be able to start that process immediately. (In Scotland the legal framework is rather different but the effects of the Church’s decision will be broadly similar.)

The General Assembly has considered the proposal twice before: in 2014 and in a special, single-issue Assembly in June 2015. The 2015 Assembly ruled that the decision on whether or not an individual URC congregation could host marriages of same-sex couples lay wholly with each local church; and that policy was confirmed yesterday.

Methodist Church to reconsider position on marriage Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 3rd July

A week in which Cameron announced his impending resignation, Labour MPs had no confidence in Corbyn and, as cats the world over rejoiced, Theresa May said she would not seek to take the UK out of the ECHR – but there was also quite a bit of proper law to get our heads round…

Brexit: the aftermath

Since the outcome of the EU Referendum became known, everyone appears to have become an expert on constitutional law. Neither of us is a constitutional or EU law specialist and we have largely avoided commenting on the run-up to the EU Referendum, not least because we had no particular locus for doing so. However, now that the votes have been counted and the Captains and the Kings are at least preparing to depart, (with one notable exception), we thought it might be helpful to readers of this blog, large numbers of whom are not lawyers, if we posted occasional round-ups of the latest comment pieces from the blogosphere and links to the relevant legislation.

On Monday we published Brexit Basics and by Saturday there was sufficient new material to post the first of our updates covering the on-going legal considerations over the issue of Article 50 TEU notifications and the events in the European Council and Parliament. Civil Litigation Brief is doing something similar, see Brexit: The Legal Consequences: useful links. This is across a much wider canvas and is primarily aimed at lawyers with sections on specific areas of law, although environmental law is at present not included. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 12th June [repost]

A mixed bag: same-sex marriage & the SEC, abortion (or its absence) in Ireland, religion in UK schools, the start of Ramadan – and its effect on soft drinks sales… 

The Scottish Episcopal Church and marriage

On Friday, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church gave the first reading to the proposal to amend s 1 of its Canon 31 (of the solemnization of holy matrimony) “to remove from the Canon the doctrinal statement regarding marriage that marriage is to be understood as a union ‘of one man and one woman’.” The proposed change will now be sent down to the dioceses for discussion and will return to the Synod in 2017, when it will require a two-thirds majority in all three Houses to obtain a second reading. For a full report, see Thinking Anglicans.

The Scottish Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion

The afternoon business of General Synod on 9 June 2016 began with a presentation from The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Primus, on the meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in January, on which we commented here. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 12th June

A mixed bag: same-sex marriage & the SEC, abortion (or its absence) in Ireland, religion in UK schools, the start of Ramadan – and its effect on soft drinks sales… 

The Scottish Episcopal Church and marriage

On Friday, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church gave the first reading to the proposal to amend s 1 of its Canon 31 (of the solemnization of holy matrimony) “to remove from the Canon the doctrinal statement regarding marriage that marriage is to be understood as a union ‘of one man and one woman’.” The proposed change will now be sent down to the dioceses for discussion and will return to the Synod in 2017, when it will require a two-thirds majority in all three Houses to obtain a second reading. For a full report, see Thinking Anglicans.

The Scottish Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion

The afternoon business of General Synod on 9 June 2016 began with a presentation from The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Primus, on the meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in January, on which we commented here. The Primus made a number of observations on the operation of the Communion and the actions of its some of its members; he stated:

“I believe that the Primates Meeting has acted beyond its powers. That is not an issue about Human Sexuality but about Anglican polity and governance.  Some of us now  but all of us eventually  will have to address issues of human sexuality.  To adopt a sanctions-based approach to the internal discipline of the Anglican Communion  when we have already rejected the Anglican Covenant  seems to me to be a real pity”.

He described “different understandings of collegiality and leadership”: “the Primates [had] agreed to ‘walk together’, although some almost immediately … walked away; and “the American Church has put its autonomy ahead of catholicity”. These actions were further reinforced by an offer of the Gafcon UK Panel of Bishops on 11 June “to provide alternative episcopal oversight [to Scottish Anglicans], and thereby your recognition as faithful Anglicans by the worldwide Gafcon movement, which represents the majority of Anglicans worldwide”.

Ireland’s stance on abortion

The UN Human Rights Committee has held that Ms Amanda Mellet’s rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights were violated by her having to travel outside Ireland for an abortion in a situation of fatal foetal abnormality.  Continue reading