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Mixed religious-freedom rulings at European Court of Human Rights

Catholic World News - January 15, 2013

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that British Airways violated the European Convention of Human Rights in telling an employee in 2006 that she could not wear a cross around her neck at work.

“Ms. [Nadia] Eweida's cross was discreet and cannot have detracted from her professional appearance,” the court ruled. “There was no evidence that the wearing of other, previously authorised, items of religious clothing, such as turbans and hijabs, by other employees had any negative impact on British Airways' brand or image.”

The court, however, ruled against Gary MacFarlane, a British marriage counselor who was fired after objecting on religious grounds to offering sex therapy to homosexuals and Lilian Ladele, a registrar who refused to perform same-sex civil partnership ceremonies.

“In each case the employer was pursuing a policy of nondiscrimination against service-users, and the right not to be discriminated against on grounds of sexual orientation was also protected under the Convention,” the court ruled.

Finally, the court ruled against Shirley Chaplin, a British nurse who was fired for wearing a cross at work, because hospital administrators had safety concerns.

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