Sig­nif­i­cant ad­vances

The Church of England - - ENGLAND ON SUNDAY -

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.

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