Three British Christians who claimed their religious rights were violated by employers were told by European judges today that they could take their rejected cases no further.
Shirley Chaplin, Gary McFarlane and Lillian Ladele saw their discrimination claims rejected by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg earlier this year.
Mrs Chaplin was switched to a desk job after she refused to take off a crucifix which hung round her neck, while Miss Ladele was disciplined by Islington council for refusing to conduct civil partnership ceremonies.
Mr McFarlane was dismissed from his role with the charity Relate after indicating he might have a conscientious objection to providing therapy to a same-sex couple.
The claimants attempted to take their appeals to the Grand Chamber of the Court but the judges have rejected their request.
Mrs Chaplin’s claims were rejected on the grounds that the removal of her necklace was necessary to protect the health and safety of nurses and patients.
Appeals by Miss Ladele and Mr McFarlane were dismissed on the grounds that disciplinary proceedings against them were justified.
The ruling stated that both Islington council and Relate were bound by duties not to discriminate against their clients and meant they could not support staff who refused to work with homosexual couples.
– – The Independent.
Public arguments about the rights to religious freedom and to equality for all under the law have frequently been presented as if they were mutually exclusive, and presented at a high decibel level, with defenders on both sides shouting past each other. A set of decisions handed down yesterday by the European Court of Human Rights demonstrated that the two can indeed co-exist. There is no inherent conflict – as long as we respect the principle that no one right overrides all others. Everything must be kept in balance.
All four cases concerned allegations that the right to freedom of religion had been violated. In two cases where complaints concerned an apparent conflict between Christian rights to freedom of expression and LGBT equality before the law, the complaints were rejected and equality won out.
Two Christians, who claim that they were fired because they wouldn’t work with gay couples, have lost their anti-discrimination case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg.
Lillian Ladele and Gary McFarlane both refused to work with same-sex couples because of their Christian faith. They were subsequently fired and say it was an act of discrimination. Ms Ladele was a marriage registrar for London’s Islington Borough Council but refused to conduct civil partnerships. Mr McFarlane, from Bristol, was a relationship counsellor who was sacked in 2008 after saying he refused to give sex therapy to gay couples.
– more at Pink News
What was important in these two cases, was that the complainants were not seeking simply freedom of religion and religious expression, but the right on those grounds to withhold professional services to same – sex couples, which in terms of their employment conditions, they were being paid to deliver on a basis of equality for all.
– More at Queering the Church.