Law and religion round-up – 13th August

Blasphemy in Ireland, flying spaghetti in Germany, silly hats in Canada – just a typical week…

Ireland’s blasphemy laws “least restrictive in the world”? Possibly, but…

The Report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom 2017 noted that

“many countries in Western Europe, including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, and Italy, retain legislation on blasphemy, defamation of religion, or ‘anti-religious remarks’, though these laws are seldom enforced. In one promising development, Ireland’s coalition government announced in May 2016 its intention to hold a referendum on the removal of its blasphemy law” [212].

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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

Nurses, patients and inappropriate conversations about religion: Kuteh

The issue of nurses having inappropriate conversations about religion with patients has come up again.

In Mrs S Kuteh v Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust (England and Wales: Unfair Dismissal) [2017] UKET 2302764/2016, the Claimant, a nursing sister employed by the Trust, was a “committed Christian” [12]. In March and April 2016, staff in her department told her superiors that patients had been complaining that when they were being assessed by Mrs Kuteh she had been raising matters of religion and faith with them: Continue reading

Controlled drugs, religion and Article 9: Beneficent Spiritist Center União Do Vegetal

Background

The Beneficent Spiritist Center União do Vegetal is a religion with Christian and reincarnationist foundations; its declared objective to contribute to the spiritual development of the human being and the improvement of his or her intellectual qualities and moral virtues, without distinction of race, sex, creed, social class or nationality. In its rituals it uses hoasca tea (also known as ayahuasca). Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 30th July

A busy week, dominated by the tragic case of Charlie Gard.

Charlie Gard

We have been following the recent Charlie Gard case, but we refrained from reporting on day-to-day developments in the case because we felt that the issues involved were beyond our remit and the medical aspects were well outside our specific expertise. In his judgment in Great Ormond Street Hospital v Gard [2017] EWHC 1909 (Fam) Mr Justice Francis commented:

“A lot of things have been said, particularly in recent days, by those who know almost nothing about this case but who feel entitled to express opinions. Many opinions have been expressed based on feelings rather than facts” [1].

“The world of social media doubtless has very many benefits but one of its pitfalls, I suggest, is that when cases such as this go viral, the watching world feels entitled to express opinions, whether or not they are evidence-based” [11]. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 16th July

A quiet week, apart from…

… not the Great Repeal Bill

On Thursday, the Government published the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. We noted it here and the Parliament page on the Bill is here.

In Public Law for Everyone, Professor Mark Elliott’s post looks in some detail (albeit preliminarily) at how the EU (Withdrawal) Bill works, and comments on some of the key constitutional issues that it raises, here. As a taster (for both Brexiteers and Remainers), he concludes: Continue reading