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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

American Religious Right group intervenes in European discrimination court hearing

A conservative American religious group has been given leave to intervene in the appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in cases concerning alleged religious discrimination.

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has obtained permission from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to intervene in four cases involving British people who claim to have suffered religious discrimination.

Based inArizona, ADF was founded in 1994 by a group of conservative Christian leaders and opposes abortion, same-sex marriage and adoption by gay couples.

Two of the four British cases, Eweida and Chaplin, concern the wearing of crosses, while the other two, Ladele and McFarlane, concern the provision of services to gay people.

According to ADF, Jan Carnogursky, a former prime minister ofSlovakiaand co-founder of the Christian Democratic Movement, has also been granted permission to intervene in the cases. TheNational Secular Societyhas also been granted leave to intervene, as has the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Meanwhile, following widespread criticism of its approach, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is holding a brief consultation on how it should advise in the cases.

The commission stated last month that it believes ‘reasonable adjustments’ could be made for religious employees in the same way that disabled people are accommodated in the workplace, such as allowing anti-gay workers to swap shifts to avoid groups of people they dislike.

After strong criticism from the NSS, Stonewall, Peter Tatchell, trade unions and some MPs, the EHRC appears to have decided not to argue for ‘reasonable adjustments’.

According to a consultation document, the commission will intervene in the cases of Lillian Ladele and Gary McFarlane “on the basis that the domestic courts came to the correct conclusions”.

In a plea for submissions, the body says: “Please let us know if you think theUKtribunals and courts applied the justification test correctly in the cases of Ladele or McFarlane? Please let us have your views on the cases and whether there are specific aspects you think are important.” The consultation closes on September 5th.

Those who want to respond can find out more here.

Also see:

NSS to intervene in European court in groundbreaking appeal cases

Published Fri, 19 Aug 2011