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

Law and religion round-up – 20th August

Same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, representing Islam, charities & politics,  burqas in Oz – and religious sensibilities on eBay…

….preceded yesterday’s weekend supplement of recent queries and comments

Following our initial collection of queries and comments in last week’s round-up, we compiled further “Quick Answers”  which provide links within the blog to questions which have arisen from searches of, or comments during the past few days or so. This week these included: the common-law right to burial for suicides and the unbaptized; confession in the CofE; Methodist supernumeraries; the UK government review of sharia; s77 building act 1984; the EU-wide definition of ‘marriage’ and ‘family’, and much, much more. The content of these occasional “Saturday Supplements” does not necessarily represent our most-read blogs, but reflects current interests of readers accessing the site on (mostly) contemporary issues.

Setback for campaigners for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland

On Thursday, judgment was handed down in the High Court in Belfast on two cases challenging Northern Ireland’s ban on same-sex marriage. A joint claim had been brought by two couples in civil partnerships and a further claim had been brought by a couple who married in England and who want their marriage legally recognised in Northern Ireland.  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].

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Limits on preaching in a prison chapel: Trayhorn

Background

In Trayhorn v The Secretary of State for Justice (Religion or Belief Discrimination) [2017] UKEAT 0304/16/0108, Mr Trayhorn was a gardener/horticulturalist at HM Prison Littlehey, which houses a large number of sex offenders and young offenders. He has also been an ordained Pentecostal minister since 2009. At a Pentecostal service in the prison chapel on 31 May 2014, he spoke to a congregation of prisoners about homosexuality as sinful, quoting from 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11.

There had been a previous complaint by the LGBT coordinator in February 2014 about Mr Trayhorn’s comments during a service on 8 February 2014. Continue reading

Heterosexual bed & breakfast in Scotland

The Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland has issued the following press release concerning complaints about the Cromasaig Bed and Breakfast website:

Commission concludes ‘heterosexual friendly’ bed and breakfast case

Published: 15 Jun 2017

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in Scotland has reached a successful conclusion in its case against the owners of a bed and breakfast. The EHRC had received several complaints about the Cromasaig Bed and Breakfast website, which previously stated it is a ‘heterosexual friendly bed and breakfast’.

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Freedom of speech, the Prevent duty and higher education

S 43 Education (No. 2) Act 1986 (Freedom of speech in universities, polytechnics and colleges) requires “Every individual and body of persons concerned in the government” of further and higher education institutions to “take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured” for staff, students and visiting speakers. The institutions must ensure, “so far as is reasonably practicable”, that use of the premises is not denied to anyone on any ground connected with their beliefs, views, policy or objectives. On the other hand, the Prevent duty in s 26 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 requires specified authorities – including relevant higher education bodies – to have due regard in the exercise of their functions to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. Continue reading