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

The ECtHR, France and same-sex marriage: Chapin & Charpentier

The background

In May 2004, Mr Chapin and Mr Charpentier submitted a marriage application to the civil registry department of Bègles municipal council. The civil registrar published the notice of marriage and the public prosecutor at the Bordeaux Tribunal de Grande Instance served notice of objection to the marriage on the Bègles civil registrar and on Mr Chapin and Mr Charpentier. Despite the objection, the Mayor of Bègles performed the marriage ceremony and made an entry to that effect in the register of births, marriages and deaths. In June 2004 the public prosecutor brought proceedings against Mr Chapin and Mr Charpentier in the Bordeaux Tribunal de Grande Instance, seeking to have the marriage annulled. On 27 July 2004, the Tribunal annulled the marriage and ordered its judgment to be recorded in the margin of the parties’ birth certificates and the marriage certificate. The Bordeaux Cour d’Appel and the Cour de Cassation upheld that judgment. They lodged their complaint nine years ago: in 2013 France legalised same-sex marriage. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 5th June

Opposite-sex civil partnerships: update

Readers may recall that, earlier this year, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan were unsuccessful in their crowd-funded challenge to the restriction of civil partnerships by s 1 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to “two people of the same sex” [disclosure: Frank contributed to their appeal for funds]. We posted about the judgment in Steinfeld & Anor v The Secretary of State for Education [2016] EWHC 128 (Admin) at the time.

The couple have just announced that their appeal will be heard on 2 and 3 November. Presumably, judgment will be handed down at some time early in the New Year: watch this space. Continue reading

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