European human rights court rejects three UK faith bias complaints

January 15, 2013

(Nadia Eweida poses for a photograph in the Temple Church in London January 15, 2013.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor )

Europe’s top human rights court ruled on Tuesday that equality laws and safety concerns trumped religious freedom in three cases where British Christians were sacked or sanctioned for expressing their beliefs at work.

The European Court of Human Rights ECHR.L ruled employers did not violate the religious rights of a registrar who refused to officiate for civil partnerships of same-sex couples and a counsellor deemed unwilling to offer sex therapy for gays.

It also turned down an appeal by a nurse whose hospital barred her from wearing a cross around her neck. In the fourth case in the verdict, a British Airways clerk suspended for wearing a cross won her appeal and was awarded damages.

“The principle of non-discrimination against gay people has been upheld,” said Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society which opposed all the appeals.

“The rights of gay people to fair and equal treatment would have been kicked back by decades” if the two appeals concerning same-sex partnership had been upheld, he said.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, whose Christian Legal Centre in London represented two of the losing plaintiffs, said she would make a final appeal to the ECHR Grand Chamber.

She said the ruling let the government decide who abided by “an equality policy that promotes a same-sex agenda and asks you to believe in it, to comply with it and promote it.”

Read the full story by Claire Davenport here.
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