A small legal challenge has turned into a precedent-setting case about whether someone in today’s Britain can be prioritised or denied housing on the basis of their religion.
The law isn’t always right and it’s not just people who can be taken hostage.
In a disgraceful decision deemed legitimate by the UK’s highest court, a single mother with four children was refused social housing – because she wasn’t a Jew.
It’s that simple.
The charity Agudas Israel Housing Association (AIHA) owns 470 houses in the London borough of Hackney. Local authorities promised, in October 2017, the next available home to the woman and her kids, two of whom are autistic.
AIHA refused to hand over the keys to any of its SIX four-bedroom, unoccupied flats.
Their argument was it makes offers “only to members of the Orthodox Jewish community.” As Britain is a secular nation, the woman’s legal team found this claim astonishing and argued it had the same sentiment as the ‘No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish’ signs that were once displayed in some pubs.
Lord Sales stated the charity’s use of positive discrimination was lawful, under the Equality Act 2010, in order to correct the disadvantage faced by the community. The issue apparently was not racism, but discrimination on the grounds of religious observance. The court considered the “widespread and increasing overt antisemitism in our society.”
Intolerance or hate speech of any form is unacceptable. But it’s hard to believe the courts and public reaction would have been the same, if this had been Islam or a group of Pashtuns from the Iranian border region.