A few weeks ago Adam Wagner at the UK Human Rights Blog told us the ECHR had changed the stance it took in July on a series of religious discrimination claims currently being pursued in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Those claims include the case of Nadia Eweida, who wanted by BA to allow her to wear a crucifix over her uniform when facing the public and Lilian Ladele, the registrar who wanted to be excused from civil partnership ceremonies.
Well, since I’ve been away in the Arctic, the EHRC has published the written submissions it’s making in all four cases.
The headline is that, since it’s not now going to argue in favour of any concept of “reasonable accommodation” for religious believers, the EHRC supports the approach of the courts in Ladele and McFarlane (the case of the relationship counsellor sacked for refusing to help same-sex couples). In the remaining cases, Eweida and Chaplin (about a nurse who was told to remove a Christian necklace), the EHRC is arguing essentially a technical point that the courts should make it easier for claimants like these to establish that they’ve been discriminated against, so that staff uniform policies must be objectively justified by employers: it doesn’t argue that uniform policies are necessarily in breach of the right to freedom of religion.
A welcome retreat, this, and a setback for the religitigation lobby.