Monday, 14 January 2013 3:49 PM
Tomorrow morning the European Court of Human Rights (EcHR) will publish the judgements in the the cases of Chaplin v. the United Kingdom, Eweida v. the United Kingdom, Ladele v. the United Kingdom and McFarlane v. the United Kingdom. The applicants, four practicing Christians, complain that domestic law failed to adequately protect their right to manifest their religion. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has repeatedly asserted that domestic courts were right to uphold human rights and equalities law and principles in dismissing cases of alleged discrimination.
The cases involve Lillian Ladele, the registrar who refused to fulfil her duties because of her ‘orthodox Christian beliefs’ against same-sex partnerships and Gary McFarlane, who refused to treat gay couples equally with straight ones in his job as a counsellor at Relate; and the cases of Nadia Eweida, who has repeatedly lost her claims of religious discrimination against her employer British Airways, and of Shirley Chaplin, who claimed that uniform codes violated her human rights as a Christian.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Our domestic courts have been robust in dismissing these cases and the victim narrative that lies behind them has no basis in reality. We are disappointed with the widespread misreporting of these cases under the guise of ‘Christian persecution’ when they are anything but. Unfortunately the head of steam that this Christian campaign has built up may well lead to success in the European Court. This would be disastrous for equality.
‘What they describe as discrimination and marginalisation of Christians is in fact the proper upholding of human rights and equalities law and principles and we hope that the court will recognise this. All reasonable people will agree that there is scope in a secular democracy for reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs when that accommodation does not affect the rights and freedoms of others. But if believers try to invoke their beliefs as a defence for treating other people badly – denying them a service because they are gay or claiming a right to preach at them in a professional context – the law is right to prevent them.’
The BHA will be available for comment once the judgments are published. For comment and to arrange interviews please contact BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson on 07534 258596 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal on 0773 843 5059 or at email@example.com
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.