Christians' rights trampled on by 'obsessive political correctness', say dissenting European judges
Christians' rights of conscience are being sacrificed on the altar of "obsessive political correctness" contrary to the values of a democratic society, two European human rights judges have claimed.
| The pic is an exaggeration. For now. But the trend is clear. |
They likened the treatment of a London marriage registrar, who asked not to carry out civil partnerships because of her beliefs on homosexuality, to conscientious objectors of the past who suffered "at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition or a Nazi firing squad".
The claims were contained a vocal dissenting judgment by two of the seven European Court of Human Rights judges who sat in a landmark case on religious freedom in Britain.
In an eagerly anticipated ruling, the court in Strasbourg upheld the right of workers to wear crosses as a visible manifestation of faith -- as long it does not fall foul of health and safety policies.
It concluded that the UK had failed to protect the rights of Nadia Eweida, a British Airways check-in clerk who was sent home because the small cross she wore contravened the airline's uniform policy -- a policy which has since been changed.
But it rejected claims by three other Christians who said that their right to religious freedom had been ignored.
They included Shirley Chaplin, a nurse from Exeter, who was forbidden from wearing a cross at work on "health and safety" grounds.
The court also threw out challenges by two Christians who lost their jobs for taking a stand on what they saw as a matter of conscience.
Gary McFarlane, a former Relate counsellor, and Lillian Ladele, a marriage registrar from Islington, north London, both resisted performing tasks at work they believed would amount to condoning homosexuality which they believe is against the teaching of the Bible.
Miss Ladele asking to be excused from conducting civil partnership ceremonies and Mr McFarlane indicated he would be uncomfortable providing sex advice to a same-sex couples on account of his beliefs.
The court said that where there is a clash of rights -- such as between freedom of conscience and protecting gay people from discrimination -- states should have a "wide margin of appreciation" to strike the balance.
It found that the British courts had not acted beyond this margin in rejecting legal challenges by the pair.
Employment lawyers claimed it meant Christians could now be "lawfully excluded" from some jobs.
Posted by: lotp 2013-01-16