Leading global law firm Baker McKenzie acted for Stonewall on a pro bono basis in its first ever intervention before the Court of Appeal. The case concerns the rights of transgender people and, specifically, the right of a transgender woman to have direct contact with her children who belong to the ultra-orthodox Charedi Jewish Community. The case raised the questions of human rights and discrimination, in evaluating a child's welfare.
Judgment was handed down on 20 December 2017, in which the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court's decision (to refuse to order direct contact), remitting the case back to the High Court for reconsideration.
Joanna Ludlam, Dispute Resolution Partner at Baker McKenzie, comments: "This is highly symbolic ruling. It not only demonstrates the court's willingness to intervene and defend fundamental rights but it is also likely to have a significant impact on the law, especially for family law and transgender rights. The outcome is a great success for our client, who are very pleased with the result. It is also a great accomplishment for us, displaying our expertise on equality and human rights issues."
The Baker McKenzie team was led by Dispute Resolution Partner Joanna Ludlam, supported by Senior Associate Angela Milner, Associate Lereesa Easterbrook and Trainee Keith Cheung.
A Stonewall spokesperson said: "No one should be forced to choose between being who they are, and their family and community. It was essential this judgement was overturned because the precedent it set was extremely dangerous. Not only did it suggest that trans equality was incompatible with faith, it forcibly separated a parent from their children, simply because of their parent’s identity. It was a flawed and cruel judgement that was widely denounced at the time by many, especially the Jewish LGBT charity Keshet UK, whose work has been vital in getting justice in this case.
"LGBT people exist in every community, and this landmark ruling demonstrates that your gender identity cannot be used to stop your right to a loving family life, your community and to respect as an individual. Faith is an important part of many LGBT people’s lives, and it is a damaging myth that LGBT equality and faith cannot coexist – many faith leaders and communities are already demonstrating that it can. Stonewall will continue to work with many different faith organisations, leaders and schools to ensure that LGBT people are accepted without exception."