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www.ReligionLaw.co.uk  - International Cases

(This page provides case references and links to relevant court judgements or news reports.

See also the pages dealing with  Criminal,   and  Civil   Cases.


Bentley v. Anglican Synod of the Diocese of New Westminster, 2009 BCSC 1608 (CanLII)

An interesting case from Canada.  A group of parishioners in British Columbia were seeking independence from the mainstream Anglican Church of Canada  over what they saw as its anti-Christian trends. Mr. Justice Stephen Kelleher of the British Columbia Supreme Court issued a mixed decision saying that the four parishes in the Vancouver area may not keep their buildings if they remove themselves from the jurisdiction of the ACoC.  Nevertheless, the court ruled, the bishop of New Westminster did not have the right under civil or canon law to fire the trustees of the parishes. The two sides, he said, are going to have to work out their difficulties outside the courts.


Blackmore v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2009 BCSC 1299 (CanLII)

An interesting case where it has been suggested by a Court that the Canadian Law prohibiting Polygamy may be contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights.  This is based on earlier cases in Canada, Reference re Same-Sex Marriage [2004] 3 S.C.R. 698, 2004 SCC 79 which agreed that the common law definition of marriage as being the Union of One Man and One Woman discriminated against same sex couples.  The unintended consequence of that decision is that it leads wide open the question "what is marriage" and if a Union between one man and one woman is not lgally valid what is wrong with a union between one man and numerous women ?


Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha v Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago [2009] UKPC 17

A strange case where the Privy Council agreed with an earlier decision of the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago that a particular award "The Trinity Cross of the Order of Trinity" was discriminatory to Muslims and Hindus under the provisions of sections 4(b), (d) and (h) of the  Trinidadian Constitution  on the basis that the Cross is a Christian Symbol. The name "Trinidad" is of course itself Christian being the Spanish for "Trinity" and therefore a reference to the Holy Trinity.  The case could conceivably have implications for British awards such as the Victoria Cross,  George Cross, Military Cross etc. Interestingly both the Trinidadian Court and the Privy Council took a very different approach to that of the US Courts in the case of American Atheists Inc v Utah Highway Patrol Association (US District Court November 20 2007)  where an attempt to have memorial crosses declared "unconstitutional" because they represented a Christian Symbol was rejected, the court holding that the cross was not an exclusively religious symbol



A compendium decision by the European Court of Human Rights merely confirming the earlier case of Dogru and Mann Singh and accepting the French Ban on the wearing of religious symbols or clothing in schools or in certain other public situations

Dogru v France - BAILII: [2008] ECHR 1579
The European Court of Human Rights rejected a claim by a French Schoolgirl that a ban on the wearing of religious symbols in school, including the Islamic Hijab, was a breach of Article 9
Mann Singh v. France - BAILII:[2008] ECHR 1523
The European Court of Human Rights rejected a claim under Article 9 brought by a French Sikh who was refused a photographic driving licence because he refused to remove his Turban for the photograph

Webb v Philadelphia Police Department (US District Court June 27 2007)
An Interesting case where an American Muslim Police Officer was refused permission to wear an Islamic Khitmar as part of her Police Uniform. She lost her case for Religious Discrimination

Leyla Sahin v. Turkey - BAILII: [2005] ECHR 819 (10 November 2005)
Leyla Sahin v. Turkey - BAILII: [2004] ECHR 299 (29 June 2004)
(A Ban preventing the wearing of an Islamic Headscarf in Istanbul University was compatible with Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights )

Dahlab v. Switzerland, Application No.42393/98, (PDF Judgement)
(A Swiss primary school teacher dismissed for refusing to work without her hijab. The court decided that this dismissal was not a breach of Article 9 because it  was aimed at "protecting the rights and freedoms of others", namely young children. The hijab was a 'powerful external symbol', connected to proselytism and irreconcilable with gender equality)

Kokkinakis v. Greece - BAILII: [1993] ECHR 20
(Greek Legislation prohibiting a Jehovahs Witness from proselytising was in Breach of Article 9. NB This case is regarded as one of the leading cases on Article 9)

Refah Partisi v Turkey - BAILII: [2003] ECHR 87
Refah Partisi  v Turkey - BAILII: [2001] ECHR 495
( A European Court of Human Rights Case supporting the banning of an "Islamist" political party in Turkey. In para 123 of the 2003 decision the Court agreed with the following statement, in para 72 of the 2001 decision, regarding Sharia Law and Democracy "It is difficult to declare one’s respect for democracy and human rights while at the same time supporting a regime based on Sharia, which clearly diverges from Convention values")

Church of the New Faith v Commissioner of Pay-Roll Tax - AustLII: [1983] HCA 40

Is an Australian decision which has been quoted in British judgements and is regarded as a leading case involving a lengthy discussion as to what exactly is a "Religion" in law.


The Islamic Council of Victoria v Catch the Fire Ministries [2004] VCAT 2510
(Remedy Decision) [2005] VCAT 1159 (22 June 2005)
(A controversial Australian case under the Religious Vilification law of Victoria. An Evangelical Christian Church was sued by the Islamic Council for a seminar it organised which was held to have vilified Islam. The Church was ordered to publish an apology and if it refused then the Pastors could have been sent to Jail)
Catch the Fire Ministries Inc & Ors v Islamic Council of Victoria Inc [2006] VSCA 284 (14 December 2006) A decision by the Victoria Supreme Court overturning the earlier Tribunal judgement and directing that the case be retried (The case has since been dropped by the ICV)

American Atheists Inc v Utah Highway Patrol Association (US District Court November 20 2007)

An attempt to have memorial crosses declared "unconstitutional" because they represented a Christian Symbol, the court held that the cross was not an exclusively religious symbol and it depended on the circumstances in which it was used. (An interesting sideline mentioned in the judgement was the fact that in Utah the majority Christian faith is Mormonism and the Mormon Church does not use the Cross as part of its religious symbols or worship.)

Van Orden v. Perry USSC June 27, 2005
McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union USSC June 27, 2005
(Two confusing United States Supreme Court decisions on displays of the Ten Commandments. In the Texas case of Van Orden the Court supported a Ten Commandments monument that has been on the state capitol grounds for about forty years but in the Kentucky case of McCreary, the Court upheld a ban on a display of the Ten Commandments.)
Simpson v. Chesterfield County
(A case where the US Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit held that a County could refuse to allow a Witch (Wiccan) to conduct prayers before the Council meeting)

Reynolds v. U.S., 98 U.S. 145 (1878)
(An historically interesting case where the US Supreme Court held that the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution did not protect Mormons who wished to practice Polygamy in accordance with their religion)

Wingrove v UK - BAILII:[1996] ECHR 60
( English Blasphemy law was compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights )


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