A pair of bigoted Brits just got some bad news from the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled their Christian beliefs don’t entitled them to discriminate against LGBT people.
Therapist Gary McFarlane refused to counsel same-sex couples, claiming it was against his religion. City registrar Lilian Ladele made the same excuse when she declined to officiate a civil partnership between gay couples as part of her official duties.
Both McFarlane and Ladele were fired for refusing to do their jobs and brought complaints to the high court, which essentially told them they didn’t have a legal leg to stand on:
The Court considered that the most important factor to be taken into account was that the policies of the applicants’ employers – to promote equal opportunities and to require employees to act in a way which did not discriminate against others – had the legitimate aim of securing the rights of others, such as same-sex couples, which were also protected under the [European Convention on Human Rights].
In particular, in previous cases the Court had held that differences in treatment based on sexual orientation required particularly serious justification and that same-sex couples were in a relevantly similar situation to different-sex couples as regards their need for legal recognition and protection of their relationship.
The authorities therefore had wide discretion when it came to striking a balance between the employer’s right to secure the rights of others and the applicants’ right to manifest their religion. The Court decided that the right balance had been struck.
While we applaud the court’s decision, you can count the seconds until fundamentalist groups in the States use the ruling as proof that Christians are being “persecuted.”