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

Another Romanian church property dispute: Orăştie

Yet another property dispute between the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church and the Romanian Orthodox Church.

In Orăştie Romanian Greek Catholic Archpriesthood United to Rome and Orăştie Romanian Greek Catholic Parish United to Rome v Romania [2017] ECHR 913 [in French], the applicants sought the restitution of their church, which had been expropriated by the Communist regime and handed over to the Orthodox in 1948. They were unsuccessful before the domestic courts [7-17], the High Court of Cassation and Justice noting that 90.71% of the population of Orăştie was Orthodox and 1.02% Greek-Catholic [16]. Continue reading

Supreme Court to hear appeal on opposite-sex civil partnerships

S 1(1) Civil Partnership Act 2004 stipulates that only a same-sex couple may conclude a civil partnership: “A civil partnership is a relationship between two people of the same sex…”. Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan have sought judicial review of that provision and have been unsuccessful both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal.

The BBC now reports that the Supreme Court has given them permission to appeal against the ruling in Steinfeld & Anor v The Secretary of State for Education [2017] EWCA Civ 81, Continue reading

Greek-Catholic church property again: Glod v Romania

Background

The Greek-Catholic parish of Glod sued the Orthodox parish of Glod for restitution of the church that had belonged to it before the dissolution of the Greek-Catholic Church by the Communist regime in 1948. It was unsuccessful before Zalău County Court; and the Court of Appeal of Cluj and the Supreme Court of Cassation and Justice upheld the judgment at first instance [4-9]. Before the Fourth Section, the applicants alleged a breach of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 ECHR (property), Continue reading

Strasbourg upholds Belgian niqab ban: Belcacemi and Dakir

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled on two Belgian cases involving bans on wearing the niqab in public.

The background

In Belcacemi and Oussar v Belgium [2017] ECHR 655 [in French], the applicants – Ms Samia Belcacemi (a Belgian national) and Ms Yamina Oussar (a Moroccan national living in Belgium) – challenged the Belgian Law of 1 June 2011 banning the wearing in public places of clothing which partially or totally covers the face. Continue reading

Abortion and human rights in Northern Ireland [updated]

The Northern Ireland Court of Appeal has allowed the appeal by the Attorney General, John Larkin QC, against the Order made by Horner J at first instance in which he held that the abortion law in Northern Ireland was incompatible with the UK’s obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 in the circumstances where the foetus was diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality or where the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. It quashed the declaration and concluded, by a majority, that the Court should not intervene in what was a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly to decide. Continue reading

Discrimination against Alevis – just satisfaction

In December 2014 we noted Cumhuriyetçi Eğitim ve Kültür Merkezi Vakfi v Turkey [2014] ECHR 1346 [in French], in which the applicant Foundation for Republican Instruction and Culture, which was established as a non-profit entity to manage a number of Alevi places of worship [cemevis], complained about the refusal of the Directorate of Religious Affairs to pay its electricity bills [7]. The Directorate’s grounds for refusal had been that the mechanism for paying the bills was intended to benefit places of worship and cemevis could not be places of worship because there was no such religion as Alevism, historically or scientifically [il n’existe pas de religion appelée « la religion alévie », ni sur le plan historique ni sur le plan scientifique]. The Foundation argued that being deprived of the privilege of free electricity was discrimination, contrary to Article 14 ECHR taken together with Article 9 and contrary to Article 9 on its own. Continue reading