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29 May 2013

Christian cases rejected by European court

Christian cases rejected by European court

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has said it will not hear the appeal of a Christian registrar who was sacked over her beliefs about marriage.

Lillian Ladele had objected to officiating at same-sex civil partnerships and asked her employers – Islington Borough Council – to accommodate for her beliefs.

Despite originally agreeing to accommodate her, the council later refused on ideological grounds, telling her that she faced disciplinary action if she went ahead with her objection.

Despite winning an initial employment tribunal claim in 2008, the verdict was overturned on appeal. After this finding was upheld in British court rulings that followed, Ladele took her case to the ECHR, because she felt the UK had failed to protect her from religious discrimination.

In January, the court in Strasbourg ruled against Lillian's claim and yesterday the court refused to allow her appeal to proceed to the Grand Chamber.

Commenting on the case, Dr Dave Landrum, the Alliance's director of advocacy, said: "The rejection of the Ladele case by the ECHR confirms that a hierarchy of human rights now exists in UK and European law.

"The decision does not inspire confidence if the government's proposal to redefine marriage succeeds.

"Indeed, it shows that David Cameron's guarantees of protection from Europe are an illusion.

"In the future the court must work closer with religious organisations and seek to understand religious convictions and beliefs better so that common sense prevails and some reasonable accommodation can be found."

Two other British Christians – Shirley Chaplin and Gary Mcfarlane also saw their discrimination claims rejected by the ECHR this week.

Chaplin had refused to take off her crucifix while at work and McFarlane lost his job with the charity Relate after objecting to provide therapy to a same-sex couple.