But it rejected a similar legal challenge from Shirley Chaplin, a nurse from
Exeter, who had been forbidden from wearing a cross at work.
The court found that the right to manifest faith could be overridden by the
hospital’s claims that it was against “health and safety” for her to wear a
Significantly, it also threw out parallel challenges brought by two other
Christians who lost their jobs for taking a stand on what they saw as a
matter of conscience.
Gary McFarlane, a Relate counsellor, and Lillian Ladele, a marriage registrar,
both resisted performing tasks at work they believed would amount to
Miss Ladele was disciplined by Islington Council for asking to be excused from
conducting civil partnership ceremonies.
Gary McFarlane indicated during a training course that if the situation ever
arose he might have a conscientious objection to providing sex therapy to a
same-sex couple on account of his Christian faith.
He was dismissed for gross misconduct for discrimination on the grounds of
Although UK equality law explicitly forbids denying goods or services to
people on grounds of sexuality, the pair argued that their stance made them
Crucially Miss Ladele’s lawyers argued that employers should be required to
make “reasonable accommodation” for minority beliefs.
Both lost their cases in what defenders said amounted to “an assault on
The judges ruled that where there were competing rights, they did not want tyo
encroach on Britain’s “margin of appreciation”.
Yesterday the National Secular Society insisted that the ruling on Mrs Eweida
was a “very limited victory” and welcomed that against Mrs Chaplin.
And lawyers said the rulings against Mr McFarlane and Miss Ladele could have
far wider implications.
Paul Lambdin, partner in the employment department at Stevens & Bolton
said: “Those with religious faith will take scant comfort from the ECHR’s
decision to allow the wearing of a religious symbol at work (when there is
no health and safety risk).
“It appears that those Christians, Muslims and others who disagree with same
sex marriage and/or civil partnerships will be excluded from certain jobs.
He added: “These cases demonstrate the difficulty of divorcing a belief from
its practice. “The practical effect is that Ms Ladele, Mr McFarlane and
others with similar religious convictions may be lawfully excluded from
Mike Judge, spokesman for The Christian Institute, which supported Miss
Ladele, said: “What this case shows is that Christians with traditional
beliefs about marriage are at risk of being left out in the cold.
“If the Government steamrollers ahead with its plans to redefine marriage,
then hundreds of thousands of people could be thrown out of their jobs
unless they agree to endorse gay marriage.”
Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which supported Mr
McFarlane and Mrs Chaplin, said: “If the Government redefines marriage in
the next days and weeks we are going to see more and more cases like this
because there are millions of Christians that believe that marriage is
between a man and a woman and will have conscientious objections to
But Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society,
said: “If they had won these cases, it would have driven a coach and horses
through the equality laws.
“The rights of gay people to fair and equal treatment would have been kicked
back by decades.”
Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, of the Movement for Reform Judaism, said: “This
has been a victory for common sense, allowing freedom of religious
expression, but not at the expense of other people’s rights.”
Miss Eweida said she was delighted to have won her case but “gutted” for
Shirley Chaplin and “mystified” at what the difference between their cases
David Cameron and Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, repeatedly promised
to change the law to protect the right to wear a cross if the women lost
It remains unclear whether that will not now happen because of Mrs Eweida’s
But Mrs Chaplin said: “I still expect David Cameron to change the law and
anything else would be a broken promise”
Christians face ‘lawful exclusion’ from jobs despite cross victory – Telegraph.co.uk
Top Stories – Google News