Mixed response from bishops to European discrimination verdicts16 January 2013
The bishops of England and Wales welcomed yesterday's ruling in the European Court of Human Rights in the case of one of the four Christians who complained of anti-religious discrimination by their employers but said the ruling in the case of three others was "disappointing".
In a statement issued today, a spokesman for the bishops' conference welcomed the court's ruling in favour of BA worker Nadia Eweida, told by BA that she could not visibly wear a small cross, saying that the judgment recognises that "her employers were interfering with her Article 9 rights [to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and to manifest the religion], and the judgment helpfully broadens the scope of protection of Article 9 to cover such cases".
But the bishops regretted the court ruling's finding against sacked relationship counsellor Gary McFarlane, former Islington registrar Lillian Ladele and hospital nurse Shirley Chaplin. In the cases of Mr McFarlane and Ms Ladele, the court said it was more important there should be no discrimination against gay people than it was that Mr McFarlane and Ms Ladele should be able to behave in accordance with their religious beliefs at work.
The bishops said they hoped common sense would prevail so that future disputes would not end up in the courts. But they expressed the hope that those who did find "the exercise of legitimate religious freedoms restricted" could trust domestic and European courts to take the infringement of their Convention rights "just as seriously as other protected rights".
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