The UKSC blog, which is focused on the new UK Supreme Court, has published an article by Aidan O’Neill QC titled Religion and the Judiciary.
He discusses several recent situations where the personal religious convictions or cultural background of judges have given rise to comment, and in particular the recent intervention by Lord Carey in McFarlane v Relate Avon Ltd.
The paradox is that the obvious tension between the views expressed by Lord Carey and their unequivocal rejection by Lord Justice Laws arises precisely because of the expansion of anti-discrimination law explicitly to outlaw discrimination on grounds of religion or belief. What the religiously motivated find difficult to understand or accept is that the freedom from discrimination on grounds of religion or belief which has been afforded them by the law does not extend to giving the religious a general right to discriminate (on otherwise unlawful grounds such as sex, age, race, disability, or sexual orientation) on the basis of religion or belief. There will undoubtedly be more litigation – if not further legislation – on this whole vexed issue. The UK tradition of being blind to our Justices’ religion will come to be further strained as a result.