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Eweida and Others v. United Kingdom
European Court of Human Rights
Apps. No. 48420/10, 59842/10, 51671/10, 36516/10 (2013)
Lillian Ladele (plaintiff), an orthodox Christian, was the registrar for marriages for the London Burrough of Islington. To promote equality and diversity, Islington had a policy against discrimination based, in part, on sexuality. During Ladele’s employment, the Civil Partnership Act 2004 was passed in the UK, which provided for registration of civil partnerships by same-sex couples. Therefore, pursuant to Islington’s policy of equality and diversity, Islington designated all of its registrars of marriages, including Ladele, as registrars for civil partnerships as well. Same-sex partnerships violated Ladele’s Christian beliefs, and therefore, Ladele refused to act as registrar for same-sex civil partnerships. The Islington authorities attempted to force Ladele to agree to sign civil-partnership registrations, but Ladele continued to refuse. Ladele filed a complaint with the employment tribunal, alleging discrimination on the basis of her religion. The employment tribunal held in Ladele’s favor, but the appeal tribunal reversed, and Ladele ultimately lost her job. Ladele appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed and held, in part, that Ladele had not been discriminated against because she had not been prevented from practicing her religion. The United Kingdom Supreme Court refused to hear Ladele’s appeal. The European Court of Human Rights granted Ladele’s application for an appeal. Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides for the right to freely exercise and manifest one’s religion, and Article 14 provides the right to be protected against discrimination on the basis of religion. Ladele argued that the Islington authorities had indirectly discriminated against her in violation of both Article 14 and 9, taken together, because the authorities had failed to accommodate Ladele’s beliefs or use less-restrictive means and therefore that the authority’s means were disproportionate to its objectives, which Ladele agreed were legitimate.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Björgvinsson, C.J.)
Dissent (Vučinić, De Gaetano, J.J.)
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