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School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 488358
Principal Lecturer: Quality Assurance, Enhancement and Validations
Course Coordinator Religion and Theology
I began working for Oxford Brookes in May 2000. I was employed to establish the Religious Studies undergraduate degree at Oxford Brookes University. I have developed deep interests in wider perspectives of professional engagement at the University and nationally, in areas of learning and teaching and quality enhancement. The key foci of my work have been: research into religious practices in modern and contemporary secular culture; the practice, pedagogy and methodology of HE teaching; policy, procedures and mechanisms in assuring and enhancing quality in HE.
The introduction in the UK of the Civil Partnership Act (2004) and it's enactment (2005) seemed to herald a new plurality and inclusiveness in the ceremonial law and practices of marriage. However, the provisions of the Act maintain an historically exclusive demarcation between secular and religious elements. Neither the ceremony nor the approved premises may have any relation to religious content or usage. Consequently, three groups remain unable to participate in religious weddings: same-sex couples, members of small religious communities, and dissidents. The public act of a wedding for these groups is not only exclusive, we argue, but pays little heed to the private needs of participants nor the private ritual significance such acts necessarily include. Moreover, the exclusion of religious elements is both difficult to interpret and police. We examine the nature and limitations of the provisions and guidance on the Civil Partnership Act and argue that maintenance of a standardised secularism within public law, as in marriage law and the Civil Partnership Act, is anachronous in a modern plural state. This article challenges the division between public secular acts and private acts of ritual and personal significance. We suggest that private actors import religious elements and meanings into secular ceremonies and that guidance to registrars officiating in civil ceremonies does not provide absolute prohibitions to couples using religiously significant elements of ritual or practice. We conclude that the Act continues practices of unjustified differential treatment and that reform to a more inclusive legal framework is both possible and necessary.
Other Professional Recognition: