British Supreme Court permits Orthodox housing associations to decline non-Jewish applicants


(JTA) — Orthodox Jewish housing associations in the United Kingdom may continue to restrict residency to Orthodox Jews, Britain’s highest court ruled.

In a ruling Friday, the court determined that the London Borough of Hackney had acted lawfully in declining to refer a non-Jewish mother’s housing application to the Agudas Israel Housing Association, the Jewish News of London reported. The association is a public charity that operates hundreds of low-cost rental properties in North London.

The woman’s lawyers had argued the borough’s refusal constituted discrimination on the basis of religion. But the housing association’s lawyers countered that reserving housing for Orthodox families is crucial to alleviating housing shortages facing the community.

Lower courts had accepted the association’s argument that the policy was a legitimate means of addressing a genuine social need. A panel of five judges on the high court unanimously agreed.

The Jewish housing association called the court’s decision a “landmark ruling.”

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