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

Baggage-handling, pastoring and sexual orientation: Houston

Colin Houston worked for Swissport as a baggage-handler at Belfast International Airport. He is also a heterosexual Christian pastor who disapproves of same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage. He was dismissed in September 2016 following a series of incidents [6]. He took his case to a Fair Employment Tribunal, claiming direct discrimination, harassment and victimisation on grounds of sexual orientation and/or religious belief/political opinion [28(1)]. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 6th August

A week that saw everything from an important ruling on the scope of the Guidance on the Prevent Duty to mistaken identity in a Cardiff pub..

Prevent

The Prevent Duty, under which “specified authorities” – includiing schools and colleges – must show “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”, is somewhat controversial. Supporters insist that it is fundamentally about safeguarding students against all forms of extremism, while critics argue that Prevent predominantly targets – and stigmatises – Muslim communities. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 30th July

A busy week, dominated by the tragic case of Charlie Gard.

Charlie Gard

We have been following the recent Charlie Gard case, but we refrained from reporting on day-to-day developments in the case because we felt that the issues involved were beyond our remit and the medical aspects were well outside our specific expertise. In his judgment in Great Ormond Street Hospital v Gard [2017] EWHC 1909 (Fam) Mr Justice Francis commented:

“A lot of things have been said, particularly in recent days, by those who know almost nothing about this case but who feel entitled to express opinions. Many opinions have been expressed based on feelings rather than facts” [1].

“The world of social media doubtless has very many benefits but one of its pitfalls, I suggest, is that when cases such as this go viral, the watching world feels entitled to express opinions, whether or not they are evidence-based” [11]. 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

Law and religion round-up – 9th July

Cake now off the Brexit menu…

…though not in the House of Lords for Pride 2017…

…but gluten-free is off the menu at Mass

Yesterday the BBC reported that the Vatican had ruled that the bread used in celebrations of the Eucharist must not be gluten-free. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 2nd July

From Hung Parliament to Bung Parliament…

…male Members without ties, and even more bishops.

Abortion in Northern Ireland

Last week, one year on from hearing oral argument, the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal overturned the ruling at first instance by Horner J in which he held that the abortion law in Northern Ireland was incompatible with the UK’s obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 in circumstances where the foetus had been diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality or where the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. Simultaneously, however, the BBC reported that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had announced in advance of a likely vote on the issue in the House of Commons that women from Northern Ireland would in future be able to obtain NHS terminations in England. We noted it all here. Continue reading