04 September 2012
Britons launch landmark ECHR case
Four Britons have today (September 4th) launched potentially-groundbreaking legal action regarding religious discrimination at the European Court of Human rights (ECHR).
Gary McFarlane, Nadia Eweida, Lillian Ladele and Shirley Chaplin - who are all Christians - are taking their cases collectively to Strasbourg on the basis they have all had their religious freedom impinged upon in employment law cases in the UK.
For instance, Mr MacFarlane was fired by marriage counselling service Relate because he refused to provide therapy to homosexual couples as well as unmarried heterosexual partners.
During an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, the professional explained that while he does not judge gay people, he believes a "balanced playing field" needs to be established whereby Christians are recognised equally.
Ms Eweida's grievance is based on the fact she was sent home from a shift at British Airways in 2006 because she refused to remove or hide from view a necklace featuring a crucifix.
The woman's subsequent employment tribunal - which she started on the grounds of alleged religious discrimination - proved unsuccessful, but British Airways has now changed its uniform policy to permit members of staff to display any religious signage.
Ms Caplin faced a similar dispute with the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after she was moved from her position as a nurse with the body to an office-based role after refusing to take off a necklace bearing a cross.
Meanwhile, Lillian Ladele faced disciplinary action after indicating she would not conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies in her role as a registrar in North London.
According to the quartet - whose case has been backed by the ex-Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey - these cases all represent breaches of the European Convention of Human Rights.
However, executive director of the National Secular Society Keith Porteus Wood told the Today programme that their success in this case would result in a "group of people who are already vulnerable" being discriminated against.
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Posted by Trusha Vyas
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