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Dublin: 3 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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British Christians take religious dismissal cases to Strasbourg

The four Christians all believe they were sacked because of their religious beliefs, but lost employment tribunals.

Image: Luca Bruno/AP

FOUR BRITISH CHRISTIANS are today bringing a case to the European Court of Human Rights claiming that they were dismissed from their various jobs because of their religions – and arguing that British employment law is insufficient to help them.

The landmark case includes a complaint from a civil registrar who refused to administer same-sex civil partnerships – meaning the case could provide a landmark ruling on whether government employees enjoy freedom of conscience in refusing to carry out duties that clash with their personal beliefs.

Other employees include two employees – one a flight attendant, the other a nurse – who were sent home after refusing to remove necklaces featuring a crucifix, and a counsellor who objected to giving relationship advice to same-sex couples.

The BBC reports that all four had brought cases to employment tribunals within the UK, but each had been defeated – prompting them to bring the case further.

The European Court of Human Rights is charged with ensuring that signatory countries act in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) which the BBC says will hold an oral hearing in its grand chamber – indicating the gravity with which the matter is being treated in Strasbourg.

The Press Association said the four will argue that the British laws which rejected their complaints are in breach of Articles 9 and 14 of the ECHR, which provide for the “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” and which prohibit religious discrimination.

The four have been supported by Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Gavan Reilly

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