Sunday, 20 January 2013

Good God! Common sense...

As my regular reader will attest, it's not very often that I have a good word to say about the European Court of Human Rights, but on this occasion they seem to have got it spot on!

This week saw four 'Christians' take their respective cases before the court in an attempt to overthrow what had been decided in the UK legal system. This is not something I condone as I believe that the EU has no right to exercise higher legal authority over the citizens of this country than it's own courts.

Marriage registrar Lillian Ladele worked for Islington Borough Council in London. When civil partnerships were legalised in 2004, Miss Ladele refused to conduct them, saying it was against her religious beliefs.

Relationship counsellor Gary McFarlane was sacked by his employer, Relate Avon, after saying he objected to giving sex therapy guidance to same-sex couples. He claimed his religious beliefs meant he could not promote gay sex.

Shirley Chaplin was asked not to display her cross necklace by her then employers, the Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation NHS Trust. They also claimed during the case, in 2009, that the 56-year-old's necklace breached health and safety guidelines, because it could be grabbed by a patient and potentially hurt Mrs Chaplin.

In my humble opinion, these people have no case - and the court agreed. In Ladele and McFarlane's cases they clearly were refusing to perform their duties as required by their employers. Their choice was simple - comply or seek work elsewhere. Also, rather ironically, the court ruled that they were infringing the rights of their clients on the ground of freedom of sexual expression!

Chaplin's case is more complicated. It was not the crucifix around her neck that was the problem, but the chain it was hanging on. She could have worn it under her uniform and, if she insisted on having her faith on display, could have worn a brooch or a badge. But no. She'd rather throw her toys out of the pram instead. Prat!!

In the final case, Nadia Eweida worked on the check in desk for British Airways. She was told she could not wear a crucifix necklace while working. She refused and was offered work off the desk where she was not meeting customers. She declined and was dismissed. Four months after this happened, BA changed its policy and she started work again.

This was a clear admission by BA that they were wrong in the first place. Mrs Eweida was not paid for the time she was off work. This is reprehensible. I don't blame her for going to law but I blame BA for not paying her compensation for her lost wages which, let's face it, would have been cheaper than the legal bill.

Had they not changed their policy, I would have taken a different view but the fact is they did and they should have been more sensible about how they dealt with this woman because of it.

Of course, you can't keep a good religious zealot down, and these three will appeal the decision, wasting even more money in the process.

I should, at this juncture, point out that the ECHR decision is not binding on the UK, but we are apparently obliged to 'take it into consideration' - so the whole thing is really a complete farce...

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