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European Court to rule on Christian discrimination cases

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In a significant legal development, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has requested that the British Government state whether they believe that the rights of Christians have been infringed in recent cases where individuals have been penalised for expressing their faith in the workplace.

The request has come because legal action is being taken by four Christians who argue that their rights have been infringed.

The four Christians are: Gary McFarlane, a counsellor who was sacked by a counselling service for saying at a staff training day that he may not be comfortable in giving sex therapy to homosexual couples; Shirley Chaplin, a nurse who was banned from working on hospital wards for wearing a cross around her neck; Nadia Eweida, a British Airways employee who was prevented from wearing a cross; and Lillian Ladele, who was disciplined by Islington council for refusing to conduct civil partnership ceremonies for homosexual couples.

The Christian Legal Centre is representing Shirley Chaplin and Gary McFarlane.

The cases have been viewed by the European Court as being of such importance that they merit further investigation. Once British Government ministers have responded the Court will decide whether to hold further hearings. Many will be watching these developments closely, as the number of Christian discrimination cases in the UK appears to be continuing to rise.

It is hoped that the consideration of these cases will provide greater clarity as to how freedom of conscience for Christians can be preserved when it comes into conflict with UK ‘equality’ laws.

Earlier in the year, the ECHR ruled that crosses were allowed to be displayed on classroom walls after a case from Italy was heard. This decision appeared out of step with how British courts had ruled on the four cases, which were all lost on appeal.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

"These cases are massively significant.

"There seems to be a disproportionate animosity towards the Christian faith and the workings of the courts in the UK has led to deep injustice.

"If we are successful in Strasbourg I hope that the Equalities Act and other diversity legislation will be overturned or overhauled so that Christians are free to work and act in accordance with their conscience.

"People with orthodox views on sexual ethics are excluded from employment because they don't fit in with the equalities and diversity agenda. It is this which we want to see addressed. Such injustice cannot be allowed to continue."

Source

The Telegraph

Case Pages

Gary McFarlane

Shirley Chaplin

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