Peter Buckley in Appeal Of Transgender Father Against Ruling of Peter Jackson J
On the 15th of November 2017, Peter Buckley appeared in the Court of Appeal before the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Singh. The Mother lives in the tight-knit ultra-orthodox Jewish community. The Father, a transgender woman, challenged the ruling of Peter Jackson J that the children risked greater psychological harm by being ostracised by the Haredi community if direct contact took place. The Court was concerned to balance the rights of the transgender Father not to suffer discrimination under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights and her right to family life under Article 8 against the freedom to practice religion which arguably included a prohibition against practices similar to but not identical with the transgender journey chosen by the Father. One issue was whether the Torah did in fact prohibit change of gender. The Court of Appeal was concerned that Peter Jackson J may have not done enough to implement direct contact and Lady Justice Arden wondered whether the Jewish “community” could be required to participate in the proceedings and could be persuaded to accept the decision taken by the Father. The argument advanced on behalf of the Mother was that it was not possible to change culture and practices in an ancient and closed community. Lord Justice Singh was concerned that a secular Court should not tolerate discrimination. On the other hand, the Court was concerned that the children should not suffer emotional harm as a consequence of the ostracization by the community. Judgment was reserved to the New Year.