Law and religion round-up – 18th February

A week in which it appeared that some people seemed to think that attracting children into church was something to be discouraged…

HM Senior Coroner for Inner North London again

The Law Society Gazette reports that Jeremy Corbyn has entered the fray over the “cab-rank rule” adopted by HM Senior Coroner for Inner North London, Mary Hassell, for processing deaths in her coronial district. According to the report, he and the Shadow Attorney, Emily Thornberry, have written to the Chief Coroner, HHJ Lucraft QC, to the effect that Ms Hassell’s approach is “unacceptable” and that grieving relatives are experiencing “unnecessary delays and barriers to laying loved ones to rest”. Continue reading

Article 10 ECHR and incitement of racial and religious hatred: Smajić

The background

In Smajić v Bosnia and Herzegovina [2018] ECHR (Application no. 48657/16), Mr Abedin Smajić, a lawyer, had been arrested on suspicion of inciting national, racial and religious hatred, discord or intolerance: he was charged, convicted and sentenced to one year’s imprisonment suspended for three years. The domestic court had found that between 3 January and 24 February 2010, under a pseudonym, he had made a number of posts on the Internet forum of a website called Bosnahistorija about the course of action to be undertaken by Bosniacs in the event of a war and the secession of Republika Srpska (one of the two constituent entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina). The following is a sample: Continue reading

Advertising and public morals: Sekmadienis

In Sekmadienis Ltd v Lithuania [2018] ECHR 112, the applicant company complained about being fined for advertising clothes using references to Jesus and Mary.

Background

In late 2012 the company ran a campaign advertising its clothes which used a male and female model with halos, the man in jeans and with tattoos and the woman in a white dress and a string of beads. The ads were followed by the captions, “Jesus, what trousers!”, “Dear Mary, what a dress!” and “Jesus and Mary, what are you wearing!”. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 21st January

The Irish Parliament wrestles with abortion law and, as the new Dean is installed at Peterborough, the Church of England wrestles with cathedral governance 

The Irish abortion debate

Last week, Dáil Éireann considered the report of its Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution in light of the recommendation of the Citizens’ Assembly than the constitutional ban on abortion should be repealed. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 14th January

Reforming the coronial system, school lunches in France, smacking children in Wales, screening Star Wars in Stornoway – 2018 is in full swing…

…and following that comment directed at certain countries by President Trump (referred to by the BBC as “a disparaging remark”), the Revd Jody Stowell suggested that many vicars would be pondering whether they can quote him verbatim in their Sunday sermon. Baroness Jenkin of Kennington was not so constrained in the Thursday HL debate on Social Media. Prefaced by “please, my Lords, forgive the unparliamentary language and block your ears if you are sensitive or easily offended”, she repeated offensive comments made to Tory candidates during the last election; Hansard reported her speech without resort to circumlocution or asterisks.

Coroners

In Inertia on inquests, Joshua Rozenberg returns to the question of the disappearance of the review of coroner services launched by the MoJ in October 2015. Everyone assumes that the overwhelming response Continue reading

Racist language, free expression and Article 10: GRA Stiftung

Background

GRA Stiftung gegen Rassismus und Antisemitismus (the GRA Foundation against Racism and Anti-Semitism), is a Swiss NGO that promotes tolerance and condemns racially-motivated discrimination.

In November 2009, the youth wing of the Swiss People’s Party held a meeting in Frauenfeld during the run-up to the referendum on banning the building of minarets. After the meeting, GRA posted an entry on its website citing the People’s Party’s own report of a speech by BK, the head of the party’s local youth branch, which quoted him as saying that it was time to stop the expansion of Islam, that “the Swiss guiding culture, based on Christianity, cannot allow itself to be replaced by other cultures” and that banning minarets would be an expression of the preservation of national identity. The minaret ban was approved in the referendum and the Constitution was amended to implement the result. Continue reading

Lee v McArthur: the Gay Wedding Cake revisited

In a guest post, Dr Michael Arnheim, Barrister at Law and Sometime Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, offers another view of Lee v McArthur & Ors [2016] NICA 29 and the forthcoming appeal.

Introduction

What is the point of yet another article on the “Gay Wedding Cake” saga? Just this, that, having lost in two courts already, the Christian bakery owners are about to receive a final knock-out blow in the UK Supreme Court – unless their lawyers take off their gloves and go for the jugular. Up to now, their lawyers have fought their corner in a quiet, gentlemanly way – on their adversaries’ terms. It is time to challenge the whole very shaky basis of the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland.  Continue reading