Opposite-sex partnerships and the ECHR: Ratzenböck and Seydl

Background

In Ratzenböck and Seydl v Austria [2017] ECHR 947, the applicants, Helga Ratzenböck and Martin Seydl, complained that, as a heterosexual couple, they were denied access to a registered partnership, a legal institution only available to same-sex couples.

In February 2010, they had lodged an application to become registered partners under the Registered Partnership Act 2009 [Eingetragene Partnerschaft-Gesetz] but the Mayor of Linz had refused their application because the registered partnership was reserved for same-sex couples only; and their appeal, alleging discrimination based on their sex and sexual orientation, was dismissed by the Upper Austrian Regional Governor. Continue reading

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 – 24th September

A very quiet week – except in Florence…

Brexit

From the Prime Minister’s speech in Florence on Friday:

“Where there is uncertainty around underlying EU law, I want the UK courts to be able to take into account the judgments of the European Court of Justice with a view to ensuring consistent interpretation. On this basis, I hope our teams can reach firm agreement quickly.” Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 10th September

End of “silly season” brings news from around the UK, and a new motu proprio 

Hijabs in primary schools

There were various reports (eg in The Sunday Times and the Evening Standard) that “Children as young as three are being allowed to wear the hijab in British nurseries and primary schools.” The ST reported that its survey found that a fifth of 800 primary schools, including Church of England schools, list the hijab as part of their uniform. “Campaigners” objected, Continue reading

Supreme Court to hear appeal on opposite-sex civil partnerships

S 1(1) Civil Partnership Act 2004 stipulates that only a same-sex couple may conclude a civil partnership: “A civil partnership is a relationship between two people of the same sex…”. Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan have sought judicial review of that provision and have been unsuccessful both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal.

The BBC now reports that the Supreme Court has given them permission to appeal against the ruling in Steinfeld & Anor v The Secretary of State for Education [2017] EWCA Civ 81, Continue reading

High Court of NI refuses to review absence of same-sex marriage

The High Court in Belfast has dismissed two cases challenging Northern Ireland’s ban on same-sex marriage. According to media reports, O’Hara J said that it was for the Northern Ireland Assembly rather than for the judiciary to decide social policy: Continue reading

House of Commons private Members’ ballot bills

The House of Commons private Members’ ballot bills were presented yesterday. Two of them may be of particular interest to readers:

  • [No 5]: Tim Loughton’s Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.): “Bill to provide that opposite sex couples may enter a civil partnership; to make provision about the registration of the names of the mother of each party to a marriage or civil partnership; to make provision about the registration of stillborn deaths; to give coroners the power to investigate stillborn deaths; and for connected purposes”  – to be read a second time on Friday 2 February 2018 (Bill 11); and
  • [No 6] Geoffrey Robinson’s Organ Donation (Deemed Consent): “Bill to enable persons in England to withhold consent for organ donation and transplantation; and for connected purposes” – to be read a second time on Friday 23 February 2018 (Bill 12).

Continue reading