Why the constitutional treatment of religion in Great Britain matters in religious disputes

In this guest post, cross-posted with permission from the UK Constitutional Law blog, Javier García Oliva looks at the wider constitutional implications of two recent cases involving children and religion.

Two high-profile cases concerning the approach of public authorities towards religion and identity, where the care and future of looked after children were concerned, have featured this summer.

Firstly, a Sikh couple were denied the opportunity to adopt a white baby by Adopt Berkshire, the Windsor and Maidenhead council-run adoption agency, and despite considerable political pressure and the intervention of the EHRC, the local authority refused to alter its position, Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 13th August

Blasphemy in Ireland, flying spaghetti in Germany, silly hats in Canada – just a typical week…

Ireland’s blasphemy laws “least restrictive in the world”? Possibly, but…

The Report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom 2017 noted that

“many countries in Western Europe, including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, and Italy, retain legislation on blasphemy, defamation of religion, or ‘anti-religious remarks’, though these laws are seldom enforced. In one promising development, Ireland’s coalition government announced in May 2016 its intention to hold a referendum on the removal of its blasphemy law” [212].

Continue reading

Urgent Commons question on CJEU rulings in Achbita and Bougnaoui

Visible Religious Symbols: European Court Ruling

This morning, 15 March, Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con) asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities “if she will make a statement on the recent Court of Justice of the European Union ruling allowing employers to ban workers from wearing religious dress and symbols in the workplace”. Following is a quick summary of the most important points.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities (Caroline Dinenage) replied as follows:

“The Government are completely opposed to discrimination, including on grounds of gender or religion, or both. It is the right of all women to choose how they dress, and we do not believe that the judgments change that. Exactly the same legal protections apply today as applied before the rulings. In both the Achbita case and the Bougnaoui case, the judgment was that there was no direct discrimination, but that there was some discrimination. A rule is directly discriminatory if it treats someone less favourably because of their sex, race, religion or whatever. A rule is indirectly discriminatory if, on the face of it, it treats everyone the same, but some people, because of their race, religion, sex and so on, find it harder to comply than others do. Indirect discrimination may be justifiable if an employer is acting in a proportionate manner to achieve a legitimate aim. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 29th January

An extraordinarily busy week dominated by Brexit – and just how many more times will we find ourselves saying that?

Brexit and the Supreme Court

Although we steadfastly avoided predicting the outcome of the Supreme Court appeal in the Brexit cases, we were not at all surprised either at the result or that it was an 8/3 split decision. We do not intend to add to the already a mass of analysis on the legal blogs by commentators much more expert than we are; they have been summarized by Robert Craig on the Constitutional Law Group site: Miller: An Index of Reports and Commentary. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 18th December

Brexit, Brexit, yet more Brexit, IICSA soldiers on – and the Joint Committee on Human Rights turns a beady eye on suspending the ECHR in times of conflict

Brexit

Robert Craig, of the LSE Law School, has produced an extraordinarily helpful summary of the proceedings before the UKSC in Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union:

  • Day 1: Initial Statement and the Attorney General.
  • Day 2: James Eadie QC, the Advocate General for Scotland, the Attorney General for Northern Ireland and Lord Pannick QC.
  • Day 3: Lord Pannick QC, Dominic Chambers QC, David Scoffield, Ronan Lavery QC and the Lord Advocate.
  • Day 4: the Lord Advocate, Richard Gordon QC, Helen Mountfield QC, Manjit Gill QC, Patrick Green QC, Advocate-General for Scotland and James Eadie QC.

Brexit – II

Whilst government continues to struggle with the meaning of “Brexit”, the word has now entered the Oxford English DictionaryContinue reading