Clegg calls for eventual separation of church and state

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has come out in support of separating church and state in the long term, following comments from the Prime Minister that Britain is a 'Christian country'.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Britain has "an important Christian identity", but supported separate church and state Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Mr Clegg said: "Having the state and the church basically bound up with each other, as we do in this country, I think in the long run it would actually be better... if the church and state were over time to stand on their own two separate feet."

"But that's not going to happen overnight for sure."

He added: "I'm not a practising man of faith, but I don't find it an issue to say we have an important Christian identity in terms of our heritage and so on."

 Source: itv

Lawyers threaten legal action against Law Society over Sharia law

Lawyers are threatening the Law Society with possible legal action after it issued new guidance on drafting Sharia law-compliant wills. The Lawyers’ Secular Society (LSS) criticised the solicitors’ representation body for being “incredibly naive” and caving into religious lobbying groups. VoR's Tim Ecott spoke to Chris Moos, from the Lawyers' Secular Society.

The Law Society has reecently issued a practice note aimed at helping solicitors “with the intricacies of Sharia succession rules, which is the code of law derived from the Quran and from the teachings and example of Mohammed”.

A Chancery Lane statement said clients in England and Wales “can legally choose to bequeath their assets according to Sharia rules, providing the will isSharia rules are not identical in every Muslim country".

The Law Society said the practice note is intended to assist solicitors who have been instructed to prepare a valid will, which follows Sharia succession rules.

There are differences between Sunni and Shia rules, and different interpretations of Sunni law.

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Gay marriage, one year on: ‘French civilisation did not crumble’

On Tuesday, one day before the one-year anniversary of the legalisation of gay marriage and adoption in France, French politician Jean-Luc Romero tweeted: “Our civilisation did not crumble, despite the alarmist predictions.”

Indeed, the months of fierce debate and sometimes violent protests that preceded the vote last year saw right-wing deputies and senators warning that same-sex marriage and adoption would destroy French society. One MP ironically suggested “legalising three-way marriages while we’re at it”.

But, as Romero suggested, France is still standing, with roughly 7,000 same-sex couples having tied the knot here, according to the Insee statistics agency. Those unions made up around three percent of all marriages registered in France in 2013.

Despite the ferocious and well-organised opposition to the law, which was an election pledge by Socialist President François Hollande, most of those marriages took place without incident. One exception was the first same-sex marriage, on May 29 in the gay-friendly southern city of Montpellier. A heckler who hurled homophobic insults at the couple getting married is being made to pay a fine of 3,800 euros.

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Outcry against Britain's gay deportations goes global

Gay rights campaigners across the world are pilling the pressure on Theresa May to suspend deportations of gay and lesbian asylum seekers until a review into the Home Office rules is completed.

Over 162,000 people worldwide have signed an petition calling for a halt to the deportations, amid concern at the case of Nigerian lesbian asylum seeker Aderonke Adejumoke Apata, who faces being returned to her home country despite the fact homosexuality can be punished by stoning in some areas.

"The asylum system is systematically set up for people to fail," she said.

"We are treated as liars and must prove our innocence. The burden of proof is on the applicant as we are guilty from the onset because we are routinely not believed and our credibility constantly attacked."

The Home Office is currently undertaking a review of gay and lesbian asylum cases after MPs found asylum seekers were having to show officials sexually explicit photos of themselves to prove their sexuality.

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The Vatican struggles to address child abuse allegations

Last week Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the damage done to children who have been abused by members of the clergy and asserted that sanctions must be imposed to tackle the problem of child abuse within the Church. It is the first time a pope has ever taken personal responsibility for the abuses committed by the Church’s priests.

In a speech made during a meeting with the International Catholic Child Bureau, a non-governmental child rights group, Pope Francis stated, “I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children.”

The statement is being described as Pope Francis’ strongest stance on the issue thus far. It comes after a scathing United Nations report lambasted the Vatican earlier this year for failing to protect children from child abusers within its ranks and for turning a blind eye or covering up cases of molestation and rape over the decades.

Measures taken by the Church to stop child abuse

The Vatican confirmed in January that Pope Benedict XVI had defrocked almost 400 priests in a two-year period due to child abuse allegations. Since taking over the papal office Pope Francis has vowed to continue the changes instigated by his predecessor.

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