The US State Department has released its 2017 list of governments “that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom”. The list names Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as ‘Countries of Particular Concern’, while Pakistan was also placed on a Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom. In a press release accompanying the publication of the list, spokesperson Heather Nauert said in far too many places around the globe, people continue to be killed, persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief. In particular, the State Department list named governments who have infringed upon individuals’ ability to adopt, change, or renounce their religion, worship in accordance with their beliefs, or be free from coercion to practice a particular religion or belief.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomed the State Department’s list, with its Chairman Daniel Mark saying, “The designation of these countries is a key step in ensuring continued U.S. engagement in support of international religious freedom. Although USCIRF agrees with the 10 countries on the State Department’s list, it does not go far enough. Secretary Tillerson should have also designated the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam.”
A transsexual who used sperm he had banked prior to his ‘gender reassignment’ to ‘female’ to have a baby with his female partner cannot be legally registered as a ‘mother’ of the child, Germany’s highest civil and criminal court ruled on Thursday.
The Federal Court of Justice said only the woman who gives birth can be considered the child’s legal mother. In its ruling, the Court said that although the rights and duties of a transsexual person depended on their new gender, the legal relationship with his or her children remained unchanged.
The ruling was a surprise because the Court has recently adopted a more liberal stance to gender identity issues. In November, Germany’s constitutional court ruled in favour of the introduction of a third gender category for people who do not identify as either male or female or are born with an ambiguous sexual anatomy.
Staff and patients at Beaumont hospital have reacted angrily to a de facto ban by management on cribs in the foyer and wards of the hospital. According to the Irish Times, a petition “to save the crib” with more than 1,000 signatures was being ignored. “A lot of elderly patients are very upset. The children visiting like to see it. The staff like to see it,” their source is reported as saying.
In addition, management is “telling staff who have set up cribs . . . in the wards to remove them”.
An official response by the hospital avoided the central allegation of the petition, that the cribs in the foyer and the wards had been banned, nor did it respond to the popular appeal to return the cribs to their usual places of prominence. Instead, the statement pointed to the existence of a crib in the hospital chapel. It also said, “the wider hospital community is multicultural and therefore multifaith”. Because of this, the hospital operates “on an interdenominational basis, with chaplaincy facilities shared among the accredited Churches assigned to the hospital, namely Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic,” the statement read.
A complaint of ‘religious discrimination’ has been made to the Equality Tribunal against University College Galway. The complaints allege that multiple incidents of bullying, harassment and intimidation of Christian students at University College Galway (UCG) have been ignored or dismissed by the university.
Members of the UCG Christian Union say the harassment began in March 2013 when a large number of their pro-life flyers were defaced or torn down.
At the beginning of the following academic year, the Student Societies body changed regulations to ban any society with fewer than 100 members. This resulted in the disbandment of all religious groups at UCG including the Christian Union, the Legion of Mary, Taize, and Jewish and Islamic groups. Later that month, the Christian Union students initiated Equality Tribunal proceedings against NUI Galway, claiming a pattern of religious discrimination over the previous 18 months. The students are still awaiting a ruling from the Equality tribunal and on Monday of this week, they took their complaints public via the Burke Broadcast website.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by the State concerning a significant High Court judgment which found the word “unborn” in the Constitution means an unborn child with a broad range of rights including and beyond the right to life. The State had argued that an unborn child enjoys only a right to life, and no other, and it appealed the judgment straight to the Supreme Court, bypassing the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court has now agreed to hear the appeal and, because the matter is so important, the whole 7 judge panel of the Court may hear the case. If the State is successful, it means the unborn child will have absolutely no statutory rights whatsoever, apart from the right to life. Then, if the 1983 amendment is repealed and not replaced with anything else, the unborn will be left with no rights at all.
The case stems from a legal dispute over a deportation order that involved a question about the rights of an unborn child. In the High Court Mr Justice Humphreys held “unborn” means an “unborn child” with rights extending beyond the right to life under Article 40.3.3 (the 1983 pro-life amendment to the Constitution). He also interpreted Article 42A of the Constitution, inserted as a result of the 2012 Children’s Referendum, as affording protections to all children “both before and after birth”. The unborn child, including of a parent facing deportation, enjoys “significant” rights and legal position at common law, by statute, and under the Constitution, “going well beyond the right to life alone”, the judge held. Many of those rights are “actually effective” rather than merely prospective, he said.