Law and religion round-up – 29th May

A week in which the Kirk held its annual General Assembly, the Government announced its promised review of sharia – and more on fonts and exhumations (but not simultaneously)…

The independent review into sharia

On Wednesday Home Secretary Theresa May launched the long-awaited independent review into sharia law in England and Wales, first mooted in March 2015. Almost simultaneously, Baroness Cox presented her private Peer’s bill, the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill, which she has promoted unsuccessfully on previous occasions.

Both seem to point to an issue that appears (to us, at least) exceedingly difficult to resolve. Continue reading

Same-sex marriage and the Church of Scotland

At its session today, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland approved proposals by 339 votes to 215 to allow ministers and deacons in same-sex marriages to continue in ministry; however, the Kirk will not solemnise same-sex weddings in its churches.

Old_logo_of_the_CoS copy

The Overture amending the Ministers and Deacons in Civil Partnerships Act sent down to presbyteries by last year’s General Assembly under the Barrier Act had received sufficient support to be presented for enactment: 26 presbyteries approved the Overture, 18 opposed it and one was tied (which was taken to count as disapproval). The Committee on Returns to Overtures concluded that the definition should be amended to refer more directly to the civil law definition. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 15th May

Not much domestic news this week apart from the continuing saga of the British Bill of Rights, but quite a lot going on elsewhere… 

A British Bill of Rights? Peers say “think again”

On Monday, the EU Justice Sub-Committee of the House of Lords, chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, published a report on the Government’s proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a new Bill of Rights – and said that there was a forceful case for a Government rethink. It pointed out that:

“The proposals the Secretary of State outlined did not appear to depart significantly from the Human Rights Act—we note in particular that all the rights contained within the ECHR are likely to be affirmed in any British Bill of Rights. His evidence left us unsure why a British Bill of Rights was really necessary.

If a Bill of Rights is not intended to change significantly the protection of human rights in the UK, we recommend the Government give careful thought before proceeding with this policy. As the former Lord Chief Justice Rt Hon Lord Woolf CH told us, the repeal of the Human Rights Act and its replacement by a Bill of Rights would be a constitutional change of the greatest significance” [Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations 2 & 3: our emphasis]. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 8th May

We spent the latter part of the week at the Cardiff Festival of Law & Religion…

… which, you might think, is an unlikely subject to be festive about. But the purpose ofNorman IMG_1120(4) the Festival was to mark the 25th anniversary of the University of Wales/Cardiff University LLM in Canon Law and to launch The Confluence of Law and Religion (which we have noted previously). If nothing else, the conference showed just how much the field has grown in the last twenty-five years: there was a very big attendance, with scholars coming from as far afield as Australia, Canada and the US, and between them they read about fifty papers. We frequently found ourselves having to choose between two sessions taking place simultaneously, both of which we wanted to attend. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 1st May

As you enjoy your May Morning champagne breakfast, or engage in a little barley-break, here is a round-up of last week’s news …

… however, there was relatively little law and religion news this week, although at L&RUK we had record daily (and monthly) readership.

Brexit and the ECHR

Last week, Theresa May’s speech on the desirability of withdrawing from the ECHR while remaining a member of the EU set the hares running (or perhaps in her case, a cat): we posted about it here. The Law Society Gazette subsequently reported that ministers at the MoJ are “clear” that the UK will remain a signatory of the ECHR. We wonder whether we’re beginning to lose the plot or whether, perhaps, there’s no longer any plot to lose: however, for a considered analysis, see Mark Elliott’s article in Public Law for EveryoneTheresa May’s case for withdrawal from the ECHR: Politically astute, legally dubious, constitutionally naïve.

Same-sex marriage in the Isle of Man

On Tuesday, the Isle of Man’s Legislative Council (the Upper House of Tynwaldapproved the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Amendment) Bill by six votes to three. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 17th April

A week during which names seem to have been a recurring theme…

Are there limits to what a parent can name a child?

“Yes!” said the Court of Appeal, in a very complex judgment of which this is only a very brief taster. The twins in C (Children) [2016] EWCA Civ 374 “were said to have been conceived as a result of rape and there [was] no known respondent father” [4]. Their mother, who has a long-standing diagnosis of psychosis and schizophrenia [5], wanted to call the boy “Preacher” (which she described as “a strong spiritual name”) and the girl “Cyanide” (which she described as “a lovely pretty name”) [12].

The Court was having none of it and dismissed the appeal from the Family Court. King LJ concluded that this was “one of those rare cases where the court, in the exercise of its inherent jurisdiction, should intervene to protect the girl twin from the emotional harm that I am satisfied she would suffer if called ‘Cyanide'” [109]. She concluded that, though there was nothing inherently objectionable about the name “Preacher”, “the girl twin’s welfare can only met by neither she nor her brother having the names chosen for them by their mother” [115]. And quite right too.

New Lord Justice Clerk

Lady Dorrian is to be the new Lord Justice Clerk in succession to Lord Carloway, who recently became Lord Justice General and Lord President of the Court of Session. Continue reading

Same-sex marriage and the Church in Wales

First steps towards recognition of same-sex marriage in the Church in Wales

Today the Church in Wales issued the following Press Release:

“Same-sex marriage statement

The Church should be a place where gay and lesbian people can be “honest and open, respected and affirmed”, say the bishops of the Church in Wales.

They are issuing a joint pastoral letter in response to consultations and debates on same-sex marriage across the Church in Wales last year, as well as to a statement from the Primates of the Anglican Communion in January. Continue reading