An ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman who left her community to start transitioning has won the right to have her case reviewed in the high court on Appeal after an earlier ruling that she should have no direct contact with her five children.
The court of appeal has decided to refer back the case of the woman, known in court as “J”, who has not seen her children since leaving the tight-knit Haredi community in Manchester in 2015.
After it became known that J was living as a woman, the community threatened to ostracise the family if they had any contact with her.
“J,” told the high court in November 2016 she believed she was the first transgender person to have left a Haredi community in the UK. She said she understood the community’s rejection of her:
“They have to get rid of me – I have sympathy with that.”
However, in an attempt to see her children, then aged between five and 12, she said she would accept any contact conditions, including reverting as far as possible to her previous male appearance in the early stages reports the Guardian
In a detailed judgment issued in February, Mr Justice Peter Jackson said:
“The likelihood of the children and their mother being marginalised or excluded by the ultra-Orthodox community is so real, and the consequences so great, that this one factor, despite its many disadvantages, must prevail over the many advantages of contact.”
“These children are caught between two apparently incompatible ways of living, led by tiny minorities within society at large … In the final analysis, the gulf between these parents – the mother within the ultra-Orthodox community and the father as a transgender person – is too wide for the children to bridge.”
Sir James Munby Heard the appeal against the decision alongside Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Singh. On Wednesday, an order was issued to reconsider a new hearing by another high court judge, due to Jackson’s Promotion.
The judges upheld some complaints “J” made about Jackson’s decisions. They said:
“stark, deeply saddening and extremely disturbing”
Then stating it was:
“unfortunate that the judge did not address head-on the human rights issues and issues of discrimination which arose”.
Keshet UK, which promotes LGBT equality within the Jewish community, welcomed the decision.
“No child should be denied a parent’s love simply because their parent is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and no child should ever be forced to choose between their family and their community,”
A spokesperson for J’s legal team told the Guardian:
“This decision is one that will be welcomed not just by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals living within small religious groups, but by the LGBT community in general.
“It sends a clear message that no religious community can operate on their own island but must conform to the law of the land.”
Alison Ball, QC, the lawyer for J, said to the JC that although she had not spoken to her client since the judgment, she was “perfectly sure from knowing her quite well that she will be very delighted and will do her utmost to make this work”.