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

Law and religion round-up – 15th October

Sero sed serio…

… as until Friday, we thought it was going to be a quiet week for news, despite the MPs’ return to Parliament after the break for Party Conferences. In addition to our Saturday posts on Sex segregation in school, and the disposal of Ian Brady’s remains, reviewed below, shortly after the publication of this round-up, the Church of England issued a statement concerning the meditation that had taken place with the sexual abuse survivor known as “Gilo”; this prompted a response from Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc.

Sex segregation in school

On Friday, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services And Skills v The Interim Executive Board of Al-Hijrah School [2017] EWCA Civ 1426. The issue of principle before the Court was

“whether it is direct discrimination, contrary to sections 13 and 85 of the Equality Act 2010 for a mixed-sex school to have a complete segregation of male and female pupils over a certain age for all lessons, breaks, school clubs and trips” [1]. Continue reading

“Assisted dying” and Article 8 again – Conway v S of S for Justice

Mr Noel Conway, who is 67 and suffering from motor neurone disease, has lost the latest round in his bid to allow doctors to prescribe him a lethal dose of drugs when his health deteriorates further. His legal team had argued that he faced a stark and unfair choice: he could either bring about his own death while still physically able to do so, or await death with no control over how and when it came. 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 – 28th May

A very, very sad week – and not one for flippant straplines…

The atrocity in Manchester

The appalling news from Manchester is beyond words. How society might react to it, however, is a legitimate matter for concern: there have already been calls in the social media for mass internments (of whom, precisely?) – and worse. Possibly one of the most measured reactions on Twitter was from Adam Wagner:

“1/ A few thoughts on the horrendous terror attack on my brilliant home town of .

2/ Terrorism isn’t just senseless violence. It has a purpose, which is to terrorise us. We, the public who watch in terror, are victims too.

3/ It’s totally natural to respond to terror with fear, anger, sometimes even a need for revenge; an ‘eye for an eye’. That’s what they want.

4/ The very best human societies are open, tolerant, multicultural. Terrorism makes us close up, retreat into our safe, small groups.

5/ In times of fear and retreat we must trust the rule-based system we build in better times. It’s insurance against our worst natures.”

Church of Scotland on same-sex marriage

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has agreed in principle to the report of its Theological Commission, An Approach to the Theology of Same-Sex Marriage. Continue reading

Assisted dying: appeal allowed in R (Conway)

As regular readers will be aware, Mr Noel Conway suffers from motor neurone disease, and while he retains the capacity to make the decision, he wishes to enlist the assistance of a medical professional to bring about his death in a peaceful and dignified way. He applied unsuccessfully for judicial review to seek a declaration under s 4(2) Human Rights Act 1998 that s 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 – which provides that a person commits a criminal offence if he or she does an act capable of encouraging or assisting the suicide or attempted suicide of another person and their act was intended to encourage or assist suicide or an attempt at suicide – is incompatible with the ECHR. S 2(1). In [2017] EWHC 640 (Admin), Burnett LJ and Jay J refused his application: Charles J dissented. We noted it here.

In this latest judgment however, R (Conway) v Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWCA Civ 275, McFarlane and Beatson LJJ concluded that permission to appeal and permission to apply for judicial review should be granted, and they remitted the matter to the Divisional Court to hear and determine the case. Continue reading

Assisted dying again: R (Conway)

By 2:1, the Administrative Court has dismissed the application of Mr Noel Conway for a declaration that s 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 breached his human rights under Articles 8(1) and 14 ECHR.

Background

In R (Conway) v Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWHC 640 (Admin), Mr Conway, aged 67, had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. A time would come when he would be told that he had less than six months to live and he wished at that point, while still able to make the decision himself, to die with medical assistance. Continue reading