Same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland again: Close

And here’s one I should have made much earlier…

In a brief judgment in Close & Ors, Re Judicial Review [2017] NIQB 79, delivered in August, O’Hara J dismissed a challenge to Article 6 of the Marriage (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 by two same-sex couples who had entered into civil partnerships in 2005. The applicants contended that the effect of the Convention, as incorporated into the law of the United Kingdom by the Human Rights Act 1998, was that the continued denial of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland was unlawful [7]. Continue reading

Same-sex marriage, civil partnership and the Austrian Constitutional Court

Readers will no doubt remember the outcome of Schalk and Kopf v Austria [2010] ECHR 1996, in which the ECtHR ruled that there was no right under the Convention for same-sex couples to marry. It held that, in the absence of same-sex marriage in Austria, the possibility of entering a registered partnership satisfied the requirements of Article 12 ECHR (right to marry and found a family).

The Constitutional Court of Austria [Verfassungsgerichtshof] has just taken precisely the opposite view. Continue reading

Conservative religious views, parental access, the ECHR – and blogging: A v Cornwall Council

In a rather unusual case, Dingemans J has had to consider whether the moral attitudes – as revealed by his blog posts – of a father who was estranged from the mother of his son supported the Family Court’s decision not to allow him parental access.

The background

In A v Cornwall Council [2017] EWHC 842 (QB), A believed that abortion and same-sex relationships were both wrong. A’s relationship with M had broken down and he was refused contact with their son, S. A claimed that the Council had prevented him having direct contact and had not supported his application to have S live with him because of the views he had blogged about abortion and same-sex marriage – and that the Council had violated his Convention rights. The Council denied the claim and said that it had conducted proper safeguarding inquiries about S and had made proper recommendations to the Family Court that had taken the relevant decisions [1]. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 15th January

The usual mix of the newsworthy, the obscure and the faintly ridiculous… 

Historic abuse in Northern Ireland…

The final report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry has been submitted to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and will be published on Friday 20 January (though whether Northern Ireland will still have an Executive on 20 January is another question entirely). The investigation, which started in 2013, has been chaired throughout by Sir Anthony Hart, a retired judge of the Northern Ireland High Court. It looked primarily into cases of abuse that took place in 22 residential homes for children between 1922 and 1995. 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 – 13th December

Marriage law, pay inequality, street preaching, charity funding, Trinity Western again – and a little jazz… 

Marriage Registration Certificates

On Monday there was a Westminster Hall debate on marriage certification introduced by Mrs Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con), the Second Church Estates Commissioner. In brief, she was arguing for reform of the law in England and Wales to include mothers’ names on marriage certificates and for the adoption of the marriage schedule system currently used for marriage and civil partnership registration in Scotland and Northern Ireland, with a single electronic register instead of the current marriage register books. Replying, Home Office minister Richard Harrington (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Refugees) conceded that the system needed reform but thought that piecemeal amendment was not enough: it was a complex issue and the Government wanted a comprehensive solution. We noted the debate here.

“Sham marriage” and the burden of proof

And while we’re on the subject of marriage, Continue reading

Northern Ireland and same-sex marriage: the story continues

Though same-sex marriage is legal in England, Wales and Scotland, there is no such provision in Northern Ireland and, as we have mentioned before, moves to institute it have been blocked consistently by the  Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP has repeatedly filed Petitions of Concern in the Stormont Assembly, with the effect of preventing equal marriage legislation from any kind of progress. The result is that same-sex marriages from elsewhere in the UK are treated as civil partnerships.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that a same-sex couple in Northern Ireland who married in England in 2014 are seeking a declaration that they are validly married, arguing that the current law violates their religious freedom under Article 9 ECHR. Despite being together for some time, they chose not to have a civil partnership ceremony in Northern Ireland because it had no religious significance for them; instead, they were married in London in September after same-sex marriage was introduced in England. Continue reading