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

Opposite-sex civil partnerships? Steinfeld & Anor in the Court of Appeal

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…”. In June 2014 the Coalition Government published the results of its second consultation on the future of civil partnership: Civil Partnership Review (England and Wales) – Report on Conclusions. After considering the responses to that consultation, the Government decided that it would not be making any changes at present.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan were refused permission to register a civil partnership at Chelsea Town Hall registry office and sought a declaration that, as a result of the enactment of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, the bar in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 on opposite-sex couples registering as civil partners had become incompatible with Article 14 ECHR (discrimination) taken in conjunction with Article 8 (respect for private and family life). Their claim for a declaration of incompatibility was unsuccessful at first instance: see Steinfeld & Anor v The Secretary of State for Education [2016] EWHC 128 (Admin) and Adam Wagner’s very helpful summary on RightsInfo. On appeal, they lost by two to one. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 15th January

The usual mix of the newsworthy, the obscure and the faintly ridiculous… 

Historic abuse in Northern Ireland…

The final report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry has been submitted to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and will be published on Friday 20 January (though whether Northern Ireland will still have an Executive on 20 January is another question entirely). The investigation, which started in 2013, has been chaired throughout by Sir Anthony Hart, a retired judge of the Northern Ireland High Court. It looked primarily into cases of abuse that took place in 22 residential homes for children between 1922 and 1995. Continue reading