Verdict on religious discrimination cases in the UK

Last September I wrote about four people in England who had claimed that they were discriminated in their workplace because of their religious beliefs. They took their case to the European Court of Human Rights which has just issued its ruling.

Of the four, only one Nadia Eweida won her case in that the court ruled that the employee of British Airways should be allowed to wear a small gold cross around her neck.

The other cases involved nurse Shirley Chaplin, 57, whose employer also stopped her wearing necklaces with a cross, Gary McFarlane, 51, a marriage counsellor sacked after saying he might object to giving sex therapy advice to gay couples, and registrar Lillian Ladele who was disciplined after she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies.

It was the cases of McFarlane and Ladele that most incensed me and I am glad they lost. I don’t care that much about people who wear religious symbols as long as it does not compromise safety (which seemed to be the issue with the nurse) and that freedom is extended to all symbols, not just those of favored religions. But taking unilateral action that adversely affects the rights of people whom you disapprove of simply based on your religious beliefs should not be allowed.

Update: As might have been expected, the Vatican is not pleased with the rulings.


  1. gshelley says

    I’d rather it had gone the other way, as I don’t agree with the way religious belief is privileged, but the ruling isn’t inconsistent with the law at least.
    Looking round, it seems reporting on this is pretty poor, most outlets claiming that the court found that BA had discriminated against her, which was not the case. They found that BA didn’t go far enough in giving her special treatment.

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