BHA: Hearings begin in ‘Christian persecution’ cases at European Court of Human Rights

Today the European Court of Human Rights will begin chamber hearings in the  the cases of Chaplin v. the United Kingdom, Eweida v. the United Kingdom, Ladele v. the United Kingdom and McFarlane v. the United Kingdom. The applicants, four practicing Christians’, complain that domestic law failed to adequately protect their right to manifest their religion. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has stated that domestic courts were right to uphold human rights and equalities law and principles in dismissing cases of alleged Christian discrimination.

The cases involve  Lillian Ladele, the registrar who refused to fulfil her duties because of her ‘orthodox Christian beliefs’ against same-sex partnerships and Gary McFarlane, who refused to treat gay couples equally with straight ones in his job as a counsellor at Relate; and the cases of Nadia Eweida, who has repeatedly lost her claims of religious discrimination against her employer British Airways, and of Shirley Chaplin, who claimed that uniform codes violated her human rights as a Christian.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Our domestic courts have been robust in dismissing these cases and the victim narrative that lies behind them has no basis in reality. What they describe as discrimination and marginalisation of Christians is in fact the proper upholding of human rights and equalities law and principles. All reasonable people will agree that there is scope in a secular democracy for reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs when that accommodation does not affect the rights and freedoms of others. But if believers try to invoke their beliefs as a defence for treating other people badly – denying them a service because they are gay or claiming a right to preach at them in a professional context – the law is right to prevent them.’


For further comment or information contact BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson on 07534 258596 or

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief

Pavan Dhaliwal
Head of Public Affairs, British Humanist Association
1 Gower Street, London, WC1E 6HD | 020 7079 3585 | 0773 843 5059 | | |

The BHA is a registered charity in England and Wales (no. 285987) and depends on donations and legacies from its members and supporters to carry out its work. You can join or donate or register for our free e-bulletin online.