In December 2014 we noted Cumhuriyetçi Eğitim ve Kültür Merkezi Vakfi v Turkey  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 . 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
In February 2007 some of the applicants, Ahmadi Muslims, decided to set up a new religious association, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, to be based in Sandanski: the others joined them subsequently. The first applicant, Mr Metodiev, applied to the district court of Sofia to register the new association under the Religions Act and the court sought the opinion of the Department for Religious Affairs – and denied the application. Continue reading
By a 3-2 majority, the Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal in R (A and B) v Secretary of State for Health  UKSC 41.
In 2012, A, a 15-year-old woman resident in Northern Ireland became pregnant. She used the services of a private clinic in England to secure an abortion accompanied by B, her mother (and litigation friend), at a total cost of £900 including travel. She did so because she reasonably believed that she would not be able to obtain an abortion in Northern Ireland or through the NHS in England because she was ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland.
In Re an application by Laura Smyth for Judicial Review, Colton J has quashed the General Register Office’s decision to refuse an application for authorisation for a humanist marriage in Northern Ireland on the grounds that the refusal breached the applicant’s ECHR rights. He ordered the GRO to grant the application, which would give temporary authorisation for a humanist celebrant to perform a legally valid and binding humanist wedding ceremony. Continue reading
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.
In A v Cornwall Council  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 . Continue reading
Under German law, the Roman Catholic Church (with about 23.7 million members) and the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD, with about 22.2 million members) have the status of public-law entities and are entitled to levy a church tax and/or fee – Kirchensteuer – on their members. (There are similar arrangements in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and some cantons of Switzerland.) The status of Churches and religious societies is governed mainly by Articles 137 to 141 (the “Church Articles” – Kirchenartikel) of the Weimar Constitution of 11 August 1919 as incorporated into the Basic Law by Article 140.
Historically, the church tax has been 8 or 9 percent of income tax liability and the only way to avoid it is formally to leave your Church: Kirchenaustritt. Continue reading
In Tayo & Ors (Trustees of Manchester New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses) v Charity Commission for England and Wales  UKUT 134 (TCC), the trustees of Manchester New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses lost their appeal against the First Tier Tribunal’s refusal in 2015 – which we noted at the time – to review the Charity Commission’s decision to open a statutory inquiry into the charity under s 46 Charities Act 2011. Continue reading