Legal expert shines light on religious liberty in the European courtroom

Dr Keith Thompson, Associate Dean of the School of Law, Sydney, and
Professor Mark Hill QC at the recent public lecture on the Sydney Campus.

23 January 2015

The importance of the right to religious liberty and the level of protection provided to the right in the United Kingdom and European Union was the focus of a recent public lecture by London based barrister Professor Mark Hill QC at The University of Notre Dame Australia's Sydney Campus on Thursday 15 January 2015.

Hosted at the School of Law's Moot Court, Professor Hill, a specialist in law and religious liberty claims, spoke about the importance of religious liberty and discussed a range of religion and the law cases heard by courts in the United Kingdom and by the European Court of Human Rights. His talk focused on recent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights on how to appropriately resolve conflicts between a claim to religious liberty and a claim to be free from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Professor Hill particularly focused on a recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights that found that no human rights violation had occurred when a civil registrar, Lillian Ladele, was dismissed for refusing to conduct same-sex civil unions as she had a religiously informed conscientious objection. Professor Hill was critical of the decision in this case arguing that with "creative rostering and constructive deployment, Ms Ladele's religious convictions could have been accommodated without any detriment to the registration of civil partnerships".

Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, Sydney, Greg Walsh, said the School of Law was honoured to have a person of Professor Hill's calibre willing to deliver a public lecture on the topic of law and religion.

"This is a topic that is of increasing importance to countries throughout the world in their attempt to ensure the laws and policies they adopt are appropriately formulated to help different religious communities to peacefully coexist," Mr Walsh said.

An audio recording of the talk may be downloaded here and an article on which Professor Hill based his speech may be accessed here.

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Biography: Professor Mark Hill QC
Professor Mark Hill QC, is an expert in the law of religious liberty in the United Kingdom and is recognised as the country’s leading practitioner in ecclesiastical law. He is an Honorary Professor of Law at Cardiff University and formerly Visiting Fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was elected a Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple in 2011 and appointed President of the European Consortium for Church and State Research in 2012. He sits as a Recorder on the Midland Circuit in criminal, civil and family cases, is a qualified Mediator and since 2008 he has been a legal assessor to the Fitness to Practise Panel of the General Medical Council.

His publications include Religious Liberty and Human Rights (2002), Law and Religion in the United Kingdom (2011) and Religion and Discrimination Law in the European Union (2012). He is recognized in Chambers and Partners Directory as a leading silk in the area of Civil Liberties: the 2012 edition states that Mark “continues to be regarded as the foremost authority on religious liberty”.


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