Judge faced hard task
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.