European court allows ADF to intervene in multiple UK religious discrimination cases
STRASBOURG, France — The European Court of Human Rights has granted the request of the Alliance Defense Fund to intervene to defend religious rights of conscience in four pivotal cases originating in the United Kingdom. Joining ADF in two of those cases is former Slovakian Prime Minister Jan Carnogursky, who was also allowed by the court to intervene. Carnogursky is now a respected attorney who was once imprisoned for his religious and political views by communist authorities in the late 1980s.
The court combined the four cases into two: Eweida and Chaplin v. United Kingdom and Ladele and McFarlane v. United Kingdom. All of the cases involve government employees in Britain who suffered unlawful discrimination on the basis of their Christian beliefs. The European Court of Human Rights agreed to review the cases on appeal, meaning the court’s decision could impact all Council of Europe member states.
“Christian employees should not be singled out for discrimination,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska, who is based in Europe. “No one should have to hide their faith or act contrary to it, especially when public employees of other faiths are accommodated but Christians are not, which appears to be what happened in some of these cases. That type of intolerance is inconsistent with the values that civilized communities should have.”
“Sadly, Americans have become accustomed to lawsuits like this within the U.S., too. Just as ADF fights for religious liberty in those cases, we are also committed to doing the same abroad so bad European precedents don’t spread further in Europe and then across the sea to America,” Kiska added.
Eweida and Chaplin v. United Kingdom involves Christian women told they must either cover up or remove cross necklaces. One of the women, Nadia Eweida, worked at the British Airways check-in counter at Heathrow Airport in London. The other, Shirley Chaplin, worked as a nurse at a government-run hospital. In both cases, accommodation was made for some employees of other faiths, but not for these women.
Ladele and McFarlane v. United Kingdom involves two Christians fired for declining to engage in acts contrary to their faith. Lillian Ladele is a Christian woman who worked as a marriage registrar for Islington Council in London but was disciplined after she asked to be exempt from registering same-sex civil partnerships. A tribunal strongly ruled in favor of Ladele after representation by ADF ally The Christian Institute, but the decision was reversed on appeal. Gary McFarlane was a counselor for a state-run counseling service who successfully counseled both opposite-sex and same-sex couples but was fired after he declined to unequivocally commit to provide same-sex couples with psycho-sexual therapy. According to court documents, “PST is intended to deal particularly with problems such as sexual dysfunction and aims to improve a couple’s sexual activity in an attempt to improve the relationship overall.”
Barrister Paul Diamond, one of more than 2,000 attorneys in the ADF alliance, is lead counsel in the Chaplin and McFarlane cases. ADF-allied attorneys Ruth Nordstrom and Mattia Ferrero represent other groups allowed by the court to intervene. ADF has also applied to represent 20 members of European Parliament in the Eweida and Chaplin case and nine members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in the Ladele and McFarlane case.
- Pronunciation guide: Eweida (eh-WY’-duh), Ladele (luh-DELL’-ee), McFarlane (mick-FAR’-lin)
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.