Telegraph (UK) 15 Jan 2013
Christians’ rights of conscience are being sacrificed on the altar of “obsessive political correctness” contrary to the values of a democratic society, two European human rights judges have claimed.
They likened the treatment of a London marriage registrar, who asked not to carry out civil partnerships because of her beliefs on homosexuality, to conscientious objectors of the past who suffered “at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition or a Nazi firing squad”. The claims were contained a vocal dissenting judgment by two of the seven European Court of Human Rights judges who sat in a landmark case on religious freedom in Britain.
Gary McFarlane, a former Relate counsellor, and Lillian Ladele, a marriage registrar from Islington, north London, both resisted performing tasks at work they believed would amount to condoning homosexuality which they believe is against the teaching of the Bible. Miss Ladele asking to be excused from conducting civil partnership ceremonies and Mr McFarlane indicated he would be uncomfortable providing sex advice to a same-sex couples on account of his beliefs.
The court said that where there is a clash of rights – such as between freedom of conscience and protecting gay people from discrimination – states should have a “wide margin of appreciation” to strike the balance.
…Christian campaigners claimed that “millions” of people who hold “politically incorrect” views could now face new restrictions on expressing their opinion. They argued that the judgment increases the risk that those who oppose same-sex marriage – due to become law later this year – could lose their jobs if they express reservations. They claimed that it meant that people liable to express traditional views on marriage would be unofficially barred from working as teachers, council staff and hospital chaplains or acting as foster carers in some cases.