Law and religion round-up – 9th September

No-fault divorce in England & Wales?

Perhaps the major news in a rather thin week was the somewhat muted announcement, in answer to an oral question in the House of Lords, that the Government is to look at the possibility of reforming the law in England and Wales to provide for no-fault divorce: we noted it here.

ELA website news

Readers will be aware of the server-related problems of the Ecclesiastical Law Association (ELA) website. Work is on-going and the site now includes the following message:

“We regret that the Ecclesiastical Law Association web site is currently being rebuilt, which will take some time. We apologise therefore for any inconvenience to those who regularly use the site.

Would anyone requiring copies of any Consistory Court judgments which are normally kept on the web site please contact Raymond Hemingray, whose email address is“.

Last week we posted Ecclesiastical court judgments – August, which included links to the full judgment of the cases reviewed, which are held on the ELA website. As an interim measure, we have uploaded these cases on to the L&RUK website and the links may be found here.

Now we are six(ty) 

On 1 September, the Daily Telegraph carried the headline Church of England bishops raise age limits for trainee clergy as they hope to boost numbers following a shift in policy to give individual bishops more control over the criteria for their local candidates. The article states that different dioceses can set different upper limits for students beginning training depending on the length of the course and the type of role they are training for: “Local age limits for new trainees, which vary from 56 to 62, have been based on the premise that new priests needed to be able to work for enough years before their retirement, which is normally between 65 and 70”.

Judaism and LGBTI in schools

The Chief Rabbi has published The Wellbeing of LGBT+ Pupils: A Guide for Orthodox Jewish Schools. In it, Rabbi Mirvis declares that

“when homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying is carried out with ‘justifications’ from Jewish texts, a major chilul Hashem (desecration of God’s name) is caused. We must be ever-mindful of the mitzva to “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Vayikra/Leviticus19:18), considered by Rabbi Akiva to be the most important principle of the Torah.”

Loyalist marches and judicial review

The Rising Star of Bridgeton Royal Black Preceptory was due to hold a march on 8 September which would have gone past St Alphonsus Roman Catholic Church in Calton, Glasgow. Following a previous incident in which supporters of an Orange Order march allegedly spat on the parish priest of St Alphonsus, Canon Tom White, Glasgow City Council asked the organisers to change the route. However, the Royal Blacks – a separate organisation from the Orange Order – refused to alter their plans; and a specially-convened meeting of the council’s Public Processions Committee subsequently decided that the procession could go ahead only if it took an alternative route that avoided  St Alphonsus.

The Herald now reports that the Royal Blacks intend to seek judicial review of the Council’s decision. Watch this space.

Decriminalisation of same-sex relationships in India

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of India handed down judgment in Navtej Singh Johar & Ors v Union of India & Ors (2018) SCC (6 September). The Court held unanimously that “consensual carnal intercourse among adults, be it homosexual or heterosexual, in private space, does not in any way harm the public decency or morality”. Therefore, the criminalisation by Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code of “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” violates Articles 14, 15, 19, and 21 of the Constitution insofar as it applies to “consensual sexual acts of adults (i.e. persons above the age of 18 years who are competent to consent) in private”:

Church in Wales vacancy for Head of Legal Services

The Church in Wales is advertising for a Head of Legal Services, in succession to Lyn Chandler. The Church is seeking a qualified solicitor to lead in the in-house team and external solicitors over a broad range of legal services including residential and investment property transactions, trusts, employment law and charity law. The successful candidate will also be responsible for giving advice to “a range of senior stakeholders” and, from time to time, leading on special legal projects.

Quick links

And finally…

“In the United Kingdom, children of 16 and 17 need the consent of their parents to be married”, writes Pauline Latham MP in The Times and asks “why are we not leading the way by increasing the legal age of marriage in this country from 16 to 18, the recognised age of adulthood?”

Not exactly, Ms Latham: they do need consent in England, Wales and Northern Ireland but they don’t in Scotland. And it depends what you mean by “this country”: marriage law is a devolved matter in both Scotland and Northern Ireland. But why let facts get in the way of an op-ed piece?

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