Law and religion round-up – 4th March

Coroners, IICSA, diversity, pews – and some of the more puzzling things that people do in church… 

Coronial jurisdiction and the “cab-rank rule”

As readers will recall, the decision of HM Coroner for Inner North London, Ms Mary Hassell, not to prioritise the release of a body for burial to meet the religious needs of the deceased or the deceased’s family, even when doing so would cause no material disadvantage to others, has been challenged by the Adath Yisroel Burial Society and a judicial review hearing is due to take place on 27 and 28 March before Singh LJ.

Joshua Rozenberg reports on the latest state of play in Legal Cheek [see the second part of his post]. Continue reading

The House of Commons debates freedom of religion or belief

On 1 March, the House of Commons held a debate in Westminster Hall on freedom of religion or belief (FORB), introduced by Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP), Chair of the All-party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, which – he pointed out, “speaks on behalf of those with Christian belief, those with other beliefs and those with no belief”. The purpose of the debate was to highlight FORB issues that the Government might raise at the UN Human Rights Council.

Shannon wished to raise issues such as the continued state-sponsored persecution of the Baha’is in Iran and forced conversion in Pakistan; however, issues of perceived religious discrimination in the United Kingdom were also raised – and the extracts from the debate in this brief summary concentrate on those.

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

Out-of-school education, social cohesion and Ofsted

On Thursday, Amanda Spielman, HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills, gave a speech at the conference of the Church of England Foundation for Education Leadership. Two points were of general interest to students of law and religion. On the tensions between faith and social cohesion, she said this: 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

Compulsory sex education and Article 9 ECHR: AR & LR v Switzerland


In 2011, a Basel primary school refused to grant Ms AR’s request that her daughter LR, then aged seven and about to move up to the second year of primary school, be exempted from sex education lessons.

In AR and LR v Switzerland [2018] (Application no 22338/15), relying on Article 8 § 1 (private and family life) Ms AR and Ms LR argued that there had been a violation of Ms AR’s right to respect for private and family life, and that Ms LR had been subjected to an unjustified interference with the exercise of her right to respect for her private life. They also complained of an infringement of their right to freedom of religion and conscience under Article 9 §1 and of a breach of Article 14 (discrimination) taken together with Articles 8 and 9. Continue reading

Sharia and inheritance in Western Thrace: Molla Sali

In Molla Sali v Greece (No. 20452/14) (which we noted briefly in April 2015) the applicant, Ms Chatitze Molla Sali, is a Greek national born in 1950 who lives in Komotini in Western Thrace. On the death of her husband, she inherited his entire estate under the terms of a will drawn up by him before a notary. His two sisters contested the will, on the grounds that their brother had belonged to the Muslim minority community in Western Thrace and that all matters relating to his estate were therefore subject to Islamic law and to the jurisdiction of the mufti rather than to the provisions of the Greek Civil Code. They relied in particular on the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres and the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which provided for Islamic customs and Islamic religious law to be applied to Greek nationals who were Muslims. Continue reading