Gender dysphoria, family breakdown and Ultra-Orthodox Judaism revisited

The Court of Appeal (Sir James Munby P and Arden and Singh LJJ) has handed down judgment in M (Children), Re [2017] EWCA Civ 2164.

The background

In January I reported on (and commented on) Peter Jackson J’s judgment in J v B (Ultra-Orthodox Judaism: Transgender) [2017] EWFC 4. The couple, who were members of the North Manchester Charedi Jewish community, ended their marriage in June 2015 when the father, J, left home to live as a woman. J then had no contact with the children because of the attitude of the Charedi community to transsexuals, though she sought to remain an Orthodox Jew, keeping kosher and attending the Orthodox synagogue when she could. She sought an order for contact from the Family Court. Continue reading

Lee v McArthur: the Gay Wedding Cake revisited

In a guest post, Dr Michael Arnheim, Barrister at Law and Sometime Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, offers another view of Lee v McArthur & Ors [2016] NICA 29 and the forthcoming appeal.


What is the point of yet another article on the “Gay Wedding Cake” saga? Just this, that, having lost in two courts already, the Christian bakery owners are about to receive a final knock-out blow in the UK Supreme Court – unless their lawyers take off their gloves and go for the jugular. Up to now, their lawyers have fought their corner in a quiet, gentlemanly way – on their adversaries’ terms. It is time to challenge the whole very shaky basis of the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland.  Continue reading

Wearing religious symbols in court: Hamidović

in Hamidović v Bosnia and Herzegovina [2017] ECHR 1101, the European Court of Human Rights held, by six votes to one, that there had been a violation of Article 9 (thought, conscience and religion) ECHR.

The background

The applicant, Mr Hamidović, is a Muslim. In 2012 he was a witness in the criminal trial of Mr Mevlid Jašarević, a member of the local group advocating the Wahhabi/Salafi version of Islam. The judge ordered him to remove his skullcap and when he refused he was expelled from the courtroom and was subsequently convicted of contempt of court and fined [7]. Continue reading

Bosnia and Herzegovina: beards and police officers

The legal adviser to the appellant, Emir Kovačević, has provided this guest post on an interesting case on the right of public-sector workers to manifest their religion while in uniform.

The Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in its decision No. U 8/17 of 30 November 2017, approved the appeal of Mr Safet Softić, deputy chairman of the House of Peoples of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina against part of the uniform regulations for the Border Police. Continue reading

Social work, controversial views and fitness to practise: Ngole

Felix Ngole, a second-year Master’s student on a social work course at Sheffield University, had been excluded from the course by the Faculty of Social Sciences Fitness to Practise [‘FTP’] Committee after comments he posted on Facebook about his personal opposition to same-sex marriage. Before the Administrative Court, he argued that fitness to practise was a matter for the professional social work bodies rather than for the University. In R (Ngole) v University of Sheffield [2017] EWHC 2669 (Admin), however, Rowena Collins Rice, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge, rejected his claim. Continue reading

Dismissal for opposition to same-sex adoption: Mr R Page

Is opposition on grounds of conscience to adoption by same-sex couples protected by equality legislation and the ECHR? That was the issue before the Tribunal in Mr R Page v NHS Trust Development Authority [2017] UKET 2302433/2016.

The background

At the time of his appointment as a Non-Executive Director of the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership NHS Trust, Mr Page was a lay magistrate. In July 2014, he had sat with two other magistrates as a family panel to consider an adoption application by a same-sex couple. The application was granted by the other two magistrates – a decision from which he dissented. The other magistrates and the clerk of the court complained about him following that case and he was subsequently reprimanded by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice: a statement was issued by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office dated 30 December 2014 in the following terms:

Continue reading