Religious Tribunals, Religious Freedom, and Concern for Vulnerable Women
Melbourne Law School
Jane Calderwood Norton
University of Birmingham - School of Law
November 20, 2012
Child and Family Law Quarterly, Forthcoming
U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 642
For the most part current UK law does not interfere with the operation of religious tribunals. The role of religious tribunals in family matters in the United Kingdom is, however, fiercely debated. While many considerations are at play in these debates, two are often set up against each other. Religious freedom is often given, on the one hand, as a reason not to interfere with religious tribunals. On the other hand, however, concern for the vulnerable – especially women in religious groups – is thought to weigh in favour of greater interference. This article evaluates the current legal response to religious tribunals in the UK in the context of family matters against these two key values. It also clarifies and expands on how religious tribunals can both harm and enhance these values. It finds that contrary to the way the debate is often presented, religious tribunals can harm religious freedom while, at the same time, they can also enhance the welfare of vulnerable persons.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 26
Keywords: religious tribunals, religious arbitration, Sharia councils, Beth Din, religious freedom
Date posted: November 21, 2012 ; Last revised: June 17, 2013
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