Family Law, Religion and Human Rights

A special issue of Laws (ISSN 2075-471X). This special issue belongs to the section "Human Rights Issues".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2024) | Viewed by 2368

Special Issue Editors

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Law, University of Nicosia, P.O. Box 24005, Nicosia CY-2417, Cyprus
Interests: family law; law and religion; human rights

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Law, University of Nicosia, P.O. Box 24005, Nicosia CY-2417, Cyprus
Interests: family law; law and religion; human rights

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In spite of the positivist narrative that presents law and religion as distinct from each other, there is common ground ensuring that the two spheres are closely connected; this applies, with perhaps even greater force, in regard to family law and religion.

Over the past few years, in particular, the intersections of family law and religion are increasingly attracting attention and becoming objects of systematic evaluation (see, for example, R.F. Wilson (ed.), The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law, CUP, 2018; J. Eekelaar (ed.), Family Rights and Religion, Routledge, 2017 (containing selected reprinted articles); P. Shah, M.-C. Foblets and M. Rohe (eds.), Family, Religion and Law: Cultural Encounters in Europe, Ashgate, 2014; E. Giunchi (ed.), Muslim Family Law in Western Courts, Routledge, 2014; J. Mair and E. Örücü (eds.), The Place of Religion in Family Law: A Comparative Search, Intersentia, 2011; J. Nichols (ed.), Marriage and Divorce in a Multicultural Context: Multi-Tiered Marriage And The Boundaries Of Civil Law and Religion, CUP, 2011; J. Witte, Jr. (ed.), Sharia, Family, and Democracy: Religious Norms and Family Law in Pluralistic Democratic States, Emory International Law Review (Special Issue), Vol. 25/2, 2011; Α. Büchler, Islamic Law in Europe?: Legal Pluralism and its Limits in European Family Laws, Ashgate, 2011). What the existing body of scholarship comes to confirm is, in broad terms, the compound nature—both spiritual and mundane—of modern family law. On the one hand, there is a religious constituent, bearing the imprint of the Christian tradition alongside other non-dominant faiths. In that context, moreover, a salient feature lies in the formal or informal role reserved for sharia in family law, to accommodate Muslim minorities—both old and recently settled—on western soil in the wake of unprecedented migration. On the other hand, there is a secular constituent, made up by family law applicable irrespective of the stakeholders’ religious affiliations.

The boundaries of religious and secular family law are subject to constant change and presumably differ across various legal orders, depending on historical, demographical and cultural factors. Whatever the degree of integration of religion into family law, however, one thing is beyond doubt: that legal developments in the field have a firm basis on human rights, from which stem two antithetical demands directed toward family law, namely a demand to respect people’s belonging to religious communities as key part of their identities and, simultaneously, a demand to enforce non-religious baseline standards pertaining to the wider citizenry and requiring fair treatment and protection of the more vulnerable members of the family unit.

The Special Issue Family Law, Religion and Human Rights aims at capturing the said tension and the way it is being negotiated within the framework of human rights, enshrined in national constitutions and international instruments, not least the European Convention on Human Rights. The aim is to foster discussion intended to address the question of freedom to and of freedom from religion on all levels of regulation of family relationships, horizontal (regarding the formation, function and dissolution of the couple) as well as vertical (between parents and children), without leaving unexplored the cross-border dimension of the topic and the dilemmas faced by private international law every time foreign religious inspired family law norms and decisions are put under consideration, raising the issue whether they can be effectively received by the forum or, on the contrary, need to be blocked because they fall under its public policy exception.

For this Special Issue, original submissions and comprehensive reviews are welcome. Research themes may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Religious marriage and civil marriage
  • Religion, arranged and forced marriage
  • Religious covenant marriage
  • Religious divorce and civil divorce
  • Choice of religion and parental responsibility
  • Parental disputes over the religious upbringing of the child
  • Religion and placement of the child with foster or adoptive parents
  • Religion and LGBT status in family law
  • Religion, circumcision and female genital mutilation
  • Religiously motivated homeschooling
  • Religiously motivated corporal punishment
  • Parental religious objections to blood transfusion and compulsory vaccination of their children
  • Religion and family violence
  • Recognition of foreign religious family law norms and decisions (on polygamous marriages, marriages by proxy, underage marriages, private and unilateral divorces, kafala, mahr) and public policy
  • Religious arbitration and mediation
  • Religious minority legal orders 

Dr. Nikolaos Koumoutzis
Prof. Dr. Achilles Emilianides
Guest Editors

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  • accommodation
  • divorce
  • family life
  • human rights
  • marriage
  • minorities
  • parental responsibility
  • private international law
  • public policy
  • religion

Published Papers (1 paper)

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18 pages, 343 KiB  
Judicial Review of Mufti Decisions Applying Islamic Family Law in Greece
by Nikos Koumoutzis
Laws 2023, 12(3), 58; - 15 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1298
Greece is a unique example of a country member of the Council of Europe that allows for the application of Sharia law by the Mufti on a select part of its citizenry: the members of the Muslim minority in Western Thrace (situated in [...] Read more.
Greece is a unique example of a country member of the Council of Europe that allows for the application of Sharia law by the Mufti on a select part of its citizenry: the members of the Muslim minority in Western Thrace (situated in NE Greece). However, to produce their effects, Mufti decisions need to undergo review and to be declared enforceable by the civil court. The aim of this article is to explore the relevant legal framework arranged in law 4964/2022 and presidential decree 52/2019, whereby the details of such a judicial review are set out. In particular, this article considers the prerequisite of the exequatur to religious adjudication, and then, it goes through all of the levels over which the said review extends, bringing progressively into focus the review of the scope of jurisdiction, the review of compatibility with the Constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights, and the review of some additional issues raised specifically by presidential decree 52/2019 over and above the points just mentioned. A final remark follows in connection with possible errors committed in religious adjudication—errors of law or fact—which remain beyond the reach of the review. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Family Law, Religion and Human Rights)
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