Don’t Let Religious Beliefs Infringe on Gay Rights

Target: The European court of human rights

Goal: Congratulate the court on safeguarding the civil union rights of gay couples in the face of religious discrimination

Recently, the European court of human rights took a stand for rights protection and equality for same-sex couples; specifically, the court ruled in favor of upholding British laws that prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. The ruling was a response to cases from the UK, brought to the attention of the court, with plaintiffs claiming that they were being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs – in sum, that their religious beliefs should allow them to discriminate against same-sex couples.

One of the cases was that of Ms. Ladele, who worked as a registrar at a London Council. In 2005, her duties would change when the Civil Partnership Act was adopted, requiring her to also officiate at ceremonies between same-sex couples. Her refusal was found by the council to be in breach of their policies of diversity and equality, and she was eventually fired.

Her case was first brought to the Employment Tribunal in the UK, but they found that her termination was legitimate, as her employer only required her to perform duties they themselves were required to by law not only by the Civil Partnership Act of 2005, but also by the Equality Act of 2007.

Ms. Ladele approached the European court with the complaint that her domestic legal system had not protected her right to practice her religious beliefs. However, while the court stressed the importance of freedom of religion, they found – as was explained in their official statement of their decision – that “where an individual’s religious observance impinges on the rights of others, some restrictions can be made.” The court found that the employer had only acted to secure the rights of homosexual couples, as they should in accordance with domestic laws as well as the European Convention on Human Rights. This ruling clearly says that no one is to be exempted from laws against discrimination against gay people, regardless of their religious beliefs.

The plaintiffs of these cases have the right to appeal the ruling within three months. Let’s make known to the court that it has the support of the public should that appeal take place. Sign the petition and congratulate the European court of human rights on making a decision that fairly serves to end discrimination, and promote equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation.

PETITION LETTER

Dear European court of human rights,

I want to congratulate you on your decision in the Case of Eweida and Others v. The United Kingdom. This decision reflects the important role of the European Union in ensuring rights protection and equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation.

The UK has taken legal action to end discrimination against gay couples – through the Civil Partnership Act of 2005, and the Equality Act of 2007. The ruling against those who oppose them could potentially damage that progress. Additionally, your ruling could encourage other countries than the UK to take an active approach to protecting human rights and equality.

The importance of freedom of religion has not been diminished by this ruling, and allowing restrictions on behavior that discriminates against same-sex couples is perfectly in accordance with human rights law. The religious beliefs of individuals cannot impinge on the rights of others, and you have made that clear on this day.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Alexndre Prévot via Flickr

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