Though only the Nadia Eweida case passed muster in the European Court of Human Rights last week, there were significant advances for religious liberties in the UK.
Shirley Chaplin, Gary McFarlane and Lillian Ladele fell foul of justice yet again in spite of the fact that the arguments backing their cases were good. A minority opinion of two of the seven judges in the registrar case of Ladele criticised political correctness and advanced a version of ‘reasonable accommodation’ for her conscientious objection to conducting civil partnerships. It was clear her terms and conditions had changed and that no gay couple would be denied a service if her many colleagues, who were willing to do so, covered civil partnerships.
Surely in the Gary McFarlane case similar reservations could apply? Mr McFarlane raised a hypothetical objection to sexual counselling of gay couples and was disciplined at an early stage. It can only be hoped in future that employers will act more reasonably. Similarly, Nadia Eweida herself expressed puzzlement as to what the difference was between hers and Shirley Chaplin’s case that enabled the judges to rule against one but not the other. Shirley Chaplin reminded David Cameron of his promise to change the law. It’s quite clear, though, that this will be another broken promise.