The European Court of Human Rights today declared that a government scheme was discriminatory for charging some immigrants a fee only if they are not planning to marry in the Church of England.
Read this press release from the Equality and Human Rights Commission: European Court finds marriage fee discriminatory.
See press reports:
Belfast Telegraph Couple get payout after law violated their right to wed
BBC Northern Ireland Londonderry couple ‘s victory on sham wedding law
From the press release:
The Commission submitted to the European Court of Human Rights that the scheme was wrong as a blanket ban on marrying anywhere other than a Church of England unfairly targets innocent people. The scheme could only be justified if it was actually designed in a way that could identify marriages of convenience.
The European Court ruled that “the scheme was discriminatory on the ground of religion and that …. no reasons were adduced by the Government …. which were capable of providing an objective and reasonable justification for the difference in treatment”.
And the Church of England doesn’t even operate in Northern Ireland!
Quite a lot more information about this case is now available:
UK Human Rights Blog UK scheme to police sham marriages slammed by Human Rights court
Press release from the ECHR: UK immigration law to prevent sham marriages breached the right to marry and was discriminatory (PDF)
And a link to the full text of the judgment of the court is available at O’Donoghue and Others v. the United Kingdom (application no. 34848/07).