The Vatican has criticised a pro-gay ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that affirms employers’ right to limit the expression of religious beliefs in the workplace when it conflicts with equality laws.

On Wednesday, in an interview with Vatican Radio, the Vatican’s foreign minister Archbishop Dominique Mamberti said that everyone in Europe should have the right to object to issues they find immoral.

“Regarding morally controversial subjects, such as abortion or homosexuality, freedom of consciences must be respected,” the archbishop said.

In what has been hailed as a landmark ruling, the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday rejected three out of four appeals filed by Christians who had been fired or disciplined by their employers for behaviours connected to their faith.

The cases included a north London registrar who was disciplined for refusing to conduct the civil partnership of a same-sex couple, and a counsellor in Bristol who was sacked for denying sex therapy to gay people.

The ruling may be appealed within three months.