Law and religion round-up – 11th October

Recognition for Alevis, turbans in the workplace, the Canadian row over niqabs – and a new legal blog

Charity Commission recognises Alevism

The Charity Commission for England and Wales has recognised the British Alevi Foundation (BAF), an umbrella body of 12 Alevi centres in the United Kingdom, as a religious charity. In a decision announced on 5 October the Charity Commission ruled that the BAF and its associated Alevi centres were established for charitable purposes and could promote the Alevi faith in accordance with the beliefs set out in the publication “Alevism” produced by the BAF. So the Alevi community now has a legal recognition in England and Wales that it is denied in Turkey: see, for example, Cumhuriyetçi Eğitim ve Kültür Merkezi Vakfi v Turkey [2014] ECHR 1346 on which we previously posted here. (Hürriyet Daily News is unlikely to have got it wrong; but a search on the charity register reveals that the BAF does not yet have a charity registration number.)

With thanks to Paul de Mello Jr for the lead.

Turbans in the workplace

Further to our notification of the change in the law to permit turban-wearing Sikhs to choose not to wear head protection and to exempt them from legal requirements to wear a safety helmet in the majority of workplaces, the Health and Safety Executive, (HSE), has posted some informative FAQs on its web pages. These indicate: the definition of a workplace includes any place where work is undertaken, including any private dwellings; the exemption applies only to head protection, and Sikhs are required to wear all other necessary PPE required under the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992; the exemption does not differentiate between employees and other turban-wearing Sikhs that may be in the workplace, e.g. visitors; and employers are still required to take all necessary actions to avoid injury from falling objects by putting in place such safe systems of work, control measures and engineering solutions e.g. restricting access to areas where this may be an issue.

Niqabs and Canadian citizenship

Canada has experienced a long-running dispute over regulations banning the wearing of face-veils at citizenship ceremonies: Policy Manual C-15 requires citizenship candidates who wear full or partial face-coverings to remove them during the recitation of the oath of citizenship. The Policy was challenged before the Federal Court by Ms Zunera Ishaq, who argued that it was contrary to section 2(a) and subsection 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Part I of The Constitution Act 1982). She was successful; and the lower court’s ruling was upheld on appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal – whereupon the Federal Government sought a stay of the ruling and said that it intended to appeal to the Supreme Court.

On 18 September the Federal Court of Appeal refused the motion for stay in a brief ruling. In Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) v Ishaq 2015 FCA 212 (CanLII) it held that the appellant had not demonstrated that refusing his application for stay would result in “irreparable harm to the public interest” on the test set out in RJR — Macdonald Inc v Canada (Attorney General) 1994 CanLII 117 (SCC). The motion was therefore dismissed with costs to the respondent  and Ms Ishaq was sworn as a Canadian citizen on Friday.

So next stop the Supreme Court. Or possibly not. Canada is in the throes of an election; and Conservative campaign spokesman Steven Lecce told the Toronto Star that the Government’s position has not changed and whether or not the Supreme Court heard the case would likely depend on who forms the Government after 19 October.

Peter Ball

Peter Ball was sentenced to 32 months for misconduct in public office and 15 months for indecent assaults, to run concurrently. He had pleaded guilty to charges of misconduct in public office between 1977 and 1992, indecent assault on a boy aged 12 or 13 in 1978 and indecent assault on a man aged 19 or 20 between 1980 and 1982. As we noted last week, the Church of England announced that the Archbishop of Canterbury has commissioned an independent review of the way the Church of England responded to the case and that its report will include a detailed account of how the case was handled within the Church and will be published.

Burial and cremation law in Scotland

The Scottish Government published the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill. We have noted it briefly but will post a fuller analysis.

New kid on the block

Well, new but hardly a kid. Sir Henry Brooke, former Vice-President of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal, has started a blog at Musings, Memories and Miscellanea which looks as if it will be well worth following. Apart from the fact that blogs by very senior retired judges are about as common as hens’ teeth, one of Sir Henry’s first posts is on the conjoined twins caseA (Children), Re [2000] EWCA Civ 254, which he describes as “the most moving and intellectually demanding case I was ever involved in” and which will be of particular interest to our own readers.

The case was about twin girls, “Jodie” and “Mary”, who were born joined at the hip. If they were surgically separated, Mary would die at once but Jodie would have a 94 per cent chance of survival; however, if they were not separated both would almost certainly die within six months. The question before the Court of Appeal was whether it could or should authorise the surgery against the wishes of their parents, even though separation would result in Mary’s death. The court authorised the surgery; and you can read about what happened to the surviving twin, whose real name is Gracie Attard, here.

Coming up next week

On Tuesday the ECtHR will be handing down judgment in Bremner v Turkey (no. 37428/06) in which the applicant, Dion Ross Bremner, an Australian national claims that a television documentary in which he was described as a “foreign pedlar of religion” breached is rights under Article 8 ECHR (private and family life). We’ll report the outcome.

Quick Links

  • Vatican: Laudato si’: Finally available in the official language of the Roman Catholic Church.

And finally…

The Daily Mail reports that as he was doing a stock-take at St Giles in Wrexham town centre the Revd Dr Jason Bray came across a first edition of the 1611 King James Bible. Its authenticity has been confirmed by the National Library of Wales and, apparently, there are believed to be fewer than 200 first editions in existence. Quite newsworthy in itself: but what prompts us to post about it is the subsequent drivel from some of the Daily Mail commentariat:

How does this Work compare with the Russian / Greek Orthodox versions?

Why would you ask the question? The authentic texts are in Hebrew and koiné Greek.

National Library of Wales ? Why [sic] was wrong with the British Library?

Because Wrexham’s in Wales, dumbo.

It’s not the one the Temple Church uses.

Correct: this one’s in Wrexham – the other one’s presumably in the Temple Church.

You get the drift…

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