Wednesday, December 15, 2010
European judges kill off British law that curbed sham marriages
Laws credited with cutting the number of sham marriages by more than 70 per cent were yesterday killed off by European judges because they breach human rights.
The rules, which required some immigrants to apply for a certificate of approval from the Home Office and pay a £295 fee before they could wed, were judged discriminatory and against the right to marry by the European Court of Human Rights.
Judges said they had ‘grave concerns’ about the scheme because many immigrants could not afford the fee.
The scheme, introduced by David Blunkett in 2004, resulted in a huge reduction in the number of ceremonies performed in its first few years. The number of couples tying the knot in register offices in the East London borough of Newham fell by 72 per cent in the first two years. Across the capital, marriages fell by 36 per cent.
The number of reports from registrars about suspicious marriages also dropped spectacularly. A total of 6,652 people were refused a certificate under the scheme. However, a string of court rulings in the UK began to challenge the system.
The final nail in its coffin was hammered home by the European judges yesterday when they ruled in favour of Nigerian asylum seeker Osita Chris Iwu and ordered Britain to pay him £7,200 in compensation and legal costs of £13,600.
Mr Iwu arrived in Northern Ireland in 2004 and claimed asylum in 2006. In the same year, he proposed to his girlfriend, Sinead O’Donoghue, who has dual British and Irish nationality.
The couple were first barred from marrying at all, but after winning a series of UK court rulings, then could not afford the fee. Mr Iwu was banned from working and his fiancee was on benefits and caring for her disabled parents. They finally married after borrowing the money. Yesterday the Strasbourg court ordered the Government to refund the £295 fee.
The judges said the exemption for Anglicans having Church of England weddings also breached religious freedoms guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Home Office earlier this year announced that certificates of approval would be scrapped, in anticipation of the ruling.
Switzerland considers repealing incest laws
Switzerland is considering repealing its incest laws because they are "obsolete" -- but the biology behind the ban is the same as ever. Children born of close relatives have a high rate of congenital defects. Even the Muslim custom of cousin marriage has that effect
The upper house of the Swiss parliament has drafted a law decriminalising sex between consenting family members which must now be considered by the government. There have been only three cases of incest since 1984.
Switzerland, which recently held a referendum passing a draconian law that will boot out foreigners convicted of committing the smallest of crimes, insists that children within families will continue to be protected by laws governing abuse and paedophilia.
Daniel Vischer, a Green party MP, said he saw nothing wrong with two consenting adults having sex, even if they were related. "Incest is a difficult moral question, but not one that is answered by penal law," he said.
Barbara Schmid Federer of The Christian People's Party of Switzerland said the proposal from the upper house was "completely repugnant." "I for one could not countenance painting out such a law from the statute books."
The Protestant People's Party is also opposed to decriminalising the offence which at present carries a maximum three year jail term. A spokesman for the party said: "Murder is also quite rare in Switzerland but no one suggests that we remove that as an office from the statutes."
Australia: Draft legislation boosts homosexual marriage
THE federal Attorney-General's Department is in the early stages of drafting broad anti-discrimination legislation that will make it illegal to discriminate on gender or sexuality grounds and includes a policy suggestion that is a step towards legalising gay marriage.
In its secret Red Book to the incoming Gillard government, the department proposed prohibiting marital and relationship status discrimination "in consolidated bill to include same-sex couples".
The Attorney-General's Red Book says that while commonwealth law prohibits sexuality discrimination in employment, it does not prohibit gender status discrimination.
"This policy commits to including new protections against sexuality or gender status discrimination in the consolidation of commonwealth anti-discrimination laws, which is currently under way," it says.
A spokesman for Attorney-General Robert McClelland was quick to clarify that the Gillard government remains opposed to gay marriage, and has not changed its position.
Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Rodney Croome said it was untenable for the government to outlaw discrimination against same-sex relationships and yet remain the "ultimate offender by continuing to prohibit same-sex marriages".
"Even if the government refuses to admit this is a step towards allowing same-sex marriages, it's clearly a concession to the majority of ALP members and the majority of Australians who support that reform," he said.
The ALP will debate ending its ban on gay marriage at its national conference late next year.
A Greens motion urging MPs to seek the views of their electorates on changing marriage laws was passed in the House of Representatives last month with Labor's support.
A spokeswoman for the Attorney-General's Department said the extract in the incoming government brief prepared by the department refers to the consolidation of anti-discrimination laws project, which is part of Australia's Human Rights Framework.
Australia: Schools should embrace Ramadan as well as Christmas?
SCHOOLS that celebrate Christmas should also embrace other non-Christian religious festivals, Muslim leaders say. Keysar Trad, president of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, called on the Victorian Education Department to include the traditions of other religious faiths as part of the formal school curriculum.
"Schools have religious programs - but generally they're elective, they're not compulsory," he said. "To have an awareness of these festivals can be very enriching for all students, including people who go to secular schools."
His comments follow Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu's recent move to protect Christmas celebrations at state schools so that all children can enjoy the "simple pleasures" of the holiday.
Mr Trad called on Mr Baillieu to extend the same level of support to other religions as well. "When the Premier of the state makes a statement in that manner, one can't help but feel that he is giving an official stamp to one religion to the exclusion of the other," he said. "To be a Premier for all Victorians, I look forward to his instructions to schools to teach about the important religious festivals for all faiths."
Mr Trad added that Muslim people should be able to take leave from work during Eid, the three-day holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
Sherene Hassan, vice-president of the Islamic Council of Victoria, also endorsed the incorporation of Ramadan and other religious festivals in the classroom. "Conversations about increasing awareness of different cultures and religions are already taking place and have been happening for some time among educators," she said. "The ICV believes this is a positive way of fostering respect between children."
Sheikh Mohamadu Saleem, spokesman for the Australian National Imams' Council, said that schools could hold anything from lessons to full-blown celebrations, depending on the number of pupils of that particular faith. "Christmas here is celebrated, although the majority of Australians are not Christians but probably consider themselves to be secularists or atheists," he said. "Exposure to other cultures in a multi-racial country is a good thing, especially in schools."
Mr Baillieu and the Victorian Education Department declined to comment when contacted by the Herald Sun.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.