Judge faced hard task

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

TO MAKE a de­ci­sion in this unique court case over a trans­gen­der Charedi fa­ther — the first, as far as any­one knows, in the UK — needed the wis­dom of Solomon.

Both par­ents, the judge ob­served, were in an “ex­traor­di­nar­ily dif­fi­cult po­si­tion”. In this con­flict be­tween re­li­gious free­dom and equal­ity rights, Mr Jus­tice Jack­son even­tu­ally ruled in what he be­lieved were the best in­ter­ests of the chil­dren.

What clearly con­vinced him was ev­i­dence of the risk of a back­lash against the fam­ily from within the Charedi com­mu­nity if they main­tained con­tact with a fa­ther who wanted to live as the woman she al­ways felt she was.

“I can see no way in which the chil­dren could es­cape the adult re­ac­tion to them en­joy­ing any­thing like an or­di­nary re­la­tion­ship with their fa­ther,” the judge said.

The el­dest child told the court he would be bul­lied and lose friends if he saw his fa­ther.

A com­mu­nity worker tes­ti­fied that “par­ents will keep their chil­dren away from those chil­dren if they are in con­tact with their fa­ther”, the judg­ment stated.

One of the most dis­turb­ing pieces of tes­ti­mony came from an Or­tho­dox fos­ter par­ent, who spoke of two teenage girls she had fos­tered from the Charedi com­mu­nity af­ter they had been sex­u­ally abused.

In one case, a girl had not been in­vited to Chanukah par­ties by class­mates. When chal­lenged, the mother of an­other child ex­plained she did not want her daugh­ter hear­ing “things”.

In an­other in­stance, the vic­tim had­made state­ments to her school about the abuse she had suf­fered within her fam­ily. The re­ac­tion was to “put her on a plane out of the coun­try and in­vent a story to ex­plain her ab­sence,” the com­mu­nity worker had re­ported. When the girl was placed in fos­ter care on her return, “all hell broke loose”.

In his judg­ment, the judge men­tioned a tri­bunal case in 2016 where a Charedi school was felt to be fall­ing short of the re­quired ed­u­ca­tional stan­dards to en­cour­age re­spect for those of dif­fer­ent sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or un­der­go­ing gen­der re­as­sign­ment.

What the ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­i­ties will make of some of the ev­i­dence pre­sented in this case good­ness only knows.

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