Law and religion round-up – 29th October

An incredibly busy week, but at least everyone’s had an extra hour in bed…

(Un)protected beliefs

In a judgment of 13 October, Mr S T Uncles v NHS Commissioning Board and others [2017] UKET 1800958/2016, an Employment Tribunal held that a “philosophical belief in English nationalism” was not a protected characteristic in the terms of s10 Equality Act 2010. The ET applied the test in Grainger Plc & Ors v Nicholson [2009] UKEAT 0219/09/0311 and concluded that, though the views expressed were genuinely held, were a belief about a weighty and substantial aspect of human life – namely national identity – and were serious, cohesive and important, they were nevertheless incompatible with the human dignity and fundamental rights of others. The claim failed: we noted it here. Continue reading

Dismissal for opposition to same-sex adoption: Mr R Page

Is opposition on grounds of conscience to adoption by same-sex couples protected by equality legislation and the ECHR? That was the issue before the Tribunal in Mr R Page v NHS Trust Development Authority [2017] UKET 2302433/2016.

The background

At the time of his appointment as a Non-Executive Director of the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership NHS Trust, Mr Page was a lay magistrate. In July 2014, he had sat with two other magistrates as a family panel to consider an adoption application by a same-sex couple. The application was granted by the other two magistrates – a decision from which he dissented. The other magistrates and the clerk of the court complained about him following that case and he was subsequently reprimanded by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice: a statement was issued by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office dated 30 December 2014 in the following terms:

Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 22nd October

A week in which the main theme seemed to be discrimination on grounds of gender or sexual orientation

Church of England to debate blessings for same-sex couples?

Last week, as we noted, the Hereford Diocesan Synod passed a resolution requesting the House of Bishops to initiate the formulation of a discretionary liturgy for use following the registration of a civil partnership or a same-sex marriage. The BBC subsequently reported this under the headline Church of England to discuss same-sex blessing, stating that “The general synod will now debate a form of service described as ‘neither contrary to nor a departure from’ the doctrine of the church”. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 27th August

“The (Great) Clock hath ceased to sound, The long day closes”

Henry Fothergill Chorley & Arthur Sullivan, (1868)

… but midday on 21st August had nothing to do with Brexit – or ecclesiastical law for that matter – unless it provides a segue into a reprise of one of our posts on bells, the closure of the Whitechapel bell foundry, or recent events at York Minster; Sullivan’s part-song The Long Day Closes had a degree of popularity at events of mourning, and was often sung at funerals of members of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. However, Frank’s And finally, below, places Monday’s media and political nonsense into context.

Brexit and the UK courts

On Wednesday, the Government published its position paper on post-Brexit relations between the UK and the Court of Justice of the European Union: we noted it briefly here.  The pledge to bring an end to “the direct jurisdiction of the Court” led critics to argue that the inclusion of the word “direct” leaves room for the CJEU to continue to influence UK jurisprudence. Tobias Lock has posted a helpful preliminary analysis on Verfassungsblog. Continue reading

Baggage-handling, pastoring and sexual orientation: Houston

Colin Houston worked for Swissport as a baggage-handler at Belfast International Airport. He is also a heterosexual Christian pastor who disapproves of same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage. He was dismissed in September 2016 following a series of incidents [6]. He took his case to a Fair Employment Tribunal, claiming direct discrimination, harassment and victimisation on grounds of sexual orientation and/or religious belief/political opinion [28(1)]. Continue reading

Limits on preaching in a prison chapel: Trayhorn

Background

In Trayhorn v The Secretary of State for Justice (Religion or Belief Discrimination) [2017] UKEAT 0304/16/0108, Mr Trayhorn was a gardener/horticulturalist at HM Prison Littlehey, which houses a large number of sex offenders and young offenders. He has also been an ordained Pentecostal minister since 2009. At a Pentecostal service in the prison chapel on 31 May 2014, he spoke to a congregation of prisoners about homosexuality as sinful, quoting from 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11.

There had been a previous complaint by the LGBT coordinator in February 2014 about Mr Trayhorn’s comments during a service on 8 February 2014. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 6th August

A week that saw everything from an important ruling on the scope of the Guidance on the Prevent Duty to mistaken identity in a Cardiff pub..

Prevent

The Prevent Duty, under which “specified authorities” – includiing schools and colleges – must show “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”, is somewhat controversial. Supporters insist that it is fundamentally about safeguarding students against all forms of extremism, while critics argue that Prevent predominantly targets – and stigmatises – Muslim communities. Continue reading