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

Gender, religious belief and discrimination in service provision

On Sunday, there were various media reports that a Southampton-based printer, Nigel Williams, had refused to produce business cards for Joanne Lockwood, a trans woman who works as a transgender diversity consultant; the reason stated for this refusal was that Mr Williams did not want to promote a cause that he felt might harm his fellow Christian believers.
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

Appeal Court rules on segregation at faith school

Today the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment in Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services And Skills v The Interim Executive Board of Al-Hijrah School [2017] EWCA Civ 1426, on appeal from [2016] EWHC 2813 (Admin). The Court ruled that the policy of the Al-Hijrah School of segregating boys from girls amounted to unlawful sex discrimination; from year five, boys and girls at the state-funded Islamic school in Birmingham are completely segregated for religious reasons for all lessons, break and lunchtimes, school trips and school clubs.  Continue reading

Another Great Irish Bake Off: Dublin’s own “gay cake” case

The sexuality of cakes has become an issue yet again: this time in Dublin rather than Belfast. In May 2016, an unnamed man placed an order with a bakery in Dublin for a cake  decorated with the (slightly garbled) words:

“BY THE GRACE OF THE GOOD LORD, I (name redacted), ORIGINALLY OF (address redacted) and c/o (other addresses redacted) that in my honest opinion – ‘GAY MARRIAGE’ IS A PERVERSION OF EQUALITY and the 34th Amendment to the Irish Constitution should be REPEALED.” Continue reading

Québec: may a Jew be compelled not to work on Saturdays?

May a Jew be compelled by his employer not to work on the Sabbath? That question recently came before the Québec Human Rights Tribunal.

Background

In Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (Zilberg) c. 9220-3454 Québec Inc. (Spa Liv Zen (Spa Orazen)) 2017 QCTDP 13 (CanLII), the claimant, Richard Zilberg, was a hairstylist employed by Spa Orazen and its owner, Iris Gressy. He had a strong Jewish identity and attachment to his religion but chose not to observe Shabbat. So he worked six days a week including Saturday – which was the busiest day of the week at the salon. [6].

In 2012, Ms Gressy, who was herself Jewish, suggested that Mr Zilberg should stop working on Saturdays because he was a Jew. Continue reading

Discrimination against Alevis – just satisfaction

In December 2014 we noted Cumhuriyetçi Eğitim ve Kültür Merkezi Vakfi v Turkey [2014] ECHR 1346 [in French], in which the applicant Foundation for Republican Instruction and Culture, which was established as a non-profit entity to manage a number of Alevi places of worship [cemevis], complained about the refusal of the Directorate of Religious Affairs to pay its electricity bills [7]. The Directorate’s grounds for refusal had been that the mechanism for paying the bills was intended to benefit places of worship and cemevis could not be places of worship because there was no such religion as Alevism, historically or scientifically [il n’existe pas de religion appelée « la religion alévie », ni sur le plan historique ni sur le plan scientifique]. The Foundation argued that being deprived of the privilege of free electricity was discrimination, contrary to Article 14 ECHR taken together with Article 9 and contrary to Article 9 on its own. Continue reading