IICSA begins hearings on the Church of England, Ireland clears the way for a referendum on abortion and the President of the Supreme Court tackles the vexed question of niqabs in court.
Lady Hale on religious dress
The Supreme Court website has posted the text of Lady Hale’s Sultan Azlan Shah Lecture, given at Oxford in January, on religious dress and, in particular, on the vexed issue of Muslim women wearing niqab veils in court. In a nutshell: Continue reading →
Marriage and parochial fees, Gift Aid, Scientologists, hijabs, Brexit – and priority for Buddhist monks…
The Sunday Timesreported (£) on New Year’s Eve that the Home Office is likely to approve the inclusion of mothers’ names on marriage certificates. According to the report, “A Home Office source told The Sunday Times the proposal had been ‘signed off’, and a spokeswoman confirmed that it wanted to include mothers’ details. These will also appear on civil partnership certificates.”
The issue is currently the subject of two identical private Member’s bills tabled by Dame Caroline Spelman in the Commons and by the Bishop of St Albans in the Lords. The Lords bill is to have its second reading debate on 26 January.
The Court of Appeal (Sir James Munby P and Arden and Singh LJJ) has handed down judgment in M (Children), Re EWCA Civ 2164.
In January I reported on (and commented on) Peter Jackson J’s judgment in J v B (Ultra-Orthodox Judaism: Transgender) EWFC 4. The couple, who were members of the North Manchester Charedi Jewish community, ended their marriage in June 2015 when the father, J, left home to live as a woman. J then had no contact with the children because of the attitude of the Charedi community to transsexuals, though she sought to remain an Orthodox Jew, keeping kosher and attending the Orthodox synagogue when she could. She sought an order for contact from the Family Court. Continue reading →
Last week, National Churchwatch – a multi-faith organisation dedicated to reducing crime in places of worship – produced a helpful guidance note on Counter Terrorism Advice for Churches which caused some rather sensationalist reactions in the media: the Telegraph reported it as “Vicars told churches should have ‘bouncers’ due to terror fears”. There was also an element of confusion that it was advice from the Home Office – which it was not: the author is Nick Tolson, Director of National Churchwatch, a former police officer who advises the Home Office’s places of worship security committee. But the headlines did make us start to wonder about the possibility of the Western Church restoring a redesigned Minor Order of “Doorkeeper and Bouncer”. We noted the guidance here.
Today the Church of England published the following reply by the Archbishop of York on behalf of himself and the Archbishop of Canterbury to the letter from Jayne Ozanne and co-signatories which called for an acknowledgement of the Church’s failure in a “duty of care” to LGBTI members of the body of Christ around the world, and for repentance foe accepting and promoting discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.
“Reply to letter from Jayne Ozanne and co-signatories
16 February 2016
The Church of England has today published a response of the Archbishops of York and Canterbury to the letter received from Jayne Ozanne and co-signatories from January of this year.
Not much hard law this week (apart from a case we can’t find) but quite a bit of speculation about an initiation rite for transgender people and a possible accidental ban on incense…
Autopsy and religion
Earlier this week, in the Administrative Court, Mitting J ruled in Charles Rotsztein v HM Senior Coroner for Inner London  that where there was an “established religious tenet” against an invasive autopsy, it should be avoided so long as there was a “realistic possibility” that a non-invasive autopsy, such as a CT scan or blood culture, would establish cause of death. However, coroners must still be able to fulfil the legal obligation to establish cause of death to the best of their ability and the non-invasive procedures should be done “without imposing an additional cost burden on the coroner”.
The judgment was delivered orally. If and when we see a copy of the judgment we shall post a summary.