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UK: Anti-gay Christians lose appeal at European Court of Human Rights

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  1. Michael 2912 28 May 2013, 5:53pm

    And this really is the end of the road and should discourage others from bringing doomed copycat cases. I just hope the Lords don’t get hot under the collar about it – as well they might – and wreck the Equal Marriage Bill.

    1. There will be copycat cases.
      These religious types need to feed their persecution complex, and they have to do something to make their “martyrs”.

      1. Yes indeed, you can be a “martyr” but without the need to be fed to the lions:-)

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 28 May 2013, 7:56pm

      With two very large majorities in the Commons for the second and third readings, I really don’t think they’d go that far. They know they can be overriden if Maria Miller doesn’t rule out the Parliament Act as indicated in a speech she made in December 2012. The debate will probably be as heated as it was in the Commons, but in the end, I think it will squeak by for Royal Assent. I don’t think the PA will have to be invoked but good to know it can be. It would serve no purpose to try and wreck it.

      1. Could you link to that speech? I’ve been unable to find any trace of it.


        1. Craig Nelson 28 May 2013, 10:43pm

          I’m not sure sure it was a speech as opposed to remarks made by civil servants on her behalf about what the government would do. My view is that the bill passing on an all party free vote with large Commons majorities all the way through, the matter should return to the Commons if the Lords rejects. If the Commons passes twice then the Commons has itself decided and the Parliament Act should be invoked. Or alternatively left for a Lab/Lib-Lab government to enact at some point post 2015. In any case there is a Commons majority for this now that is likely to be the case irrespective of who has a majority in the Commons.

          Therefore the matter has now be decoded so should be put into law without delay.

  2. Midnighter 28 May 2013, 5:55pm

    Or as the rest of us have known all along, religious bigotry is still bigotry. “God told me to” is not an excuse to be a horrible person.

  3. They complain about discrimination for discriminating? Double speak if I ever heard it.

    I wish I lived in the future when the 3 mono faiths will be dead old relics in a museum.

    1. It’s like a Klansman bickering and whining that he is being discriminated because he was deprived of his right to harass and lynch black people.

      1. de Villiers 29 May 2013, 9:02am

        I am pleased that the court has dismissed these cases but your analogy is incorrect.

        The Klansmen wanted to engage in external activities – the hanging and lynching of black people. This required them to interfere with the rights of black people not to be assaulted. In this way, they wanted to exercise external preferences relating to black people.

        These Christians did not want to engage in external activities. They wanted not to engage with gay people, which is the opposite of the KKK. Instead, they wanted to withdraw from gay people and allow other employees to serve them.

        They did not want to prevent the gay rights and so exercise external preferences. They did want to exercise internal preferences relating to themselves not to engage with gay people.

        Regardless, the discrimination law does not recognise the validity of a person seeking to exercise an internal preference in a way contrary to the equality laws.

        1. Commander Thor 29 May 2013, 11:23am

          Dock their salary in proportion to the number of LGBTQ people in the population, and we can all be happy!

        2. Midnighter 29 May 2013, 1:53pm

          Whether or not the expression of bigotry was active or passive, it was still an attempt to impose their views on society by behaviour which impeded the democratic will of that society.

          For the same reason that in court it is an offence not to tell “the whole truth”, inaction can still be a result of a conscious choice and thus have just as serious consequences.

          As an analogy, I can choose not to turn the wheel of my car to avoid a pedestrian. I did not act, so according to your argument, I am presumably not guilty.

          1. de Villiers 30 May 2013, 11:15pm

            Midnighter – can you read? Did you note my sentence that, “Regardless, the discrimination law does not recognise the validity of a person seeking to exercise an internal preference in a way contrary to the equality laws.” ?

            I could not understand your wheel analogy. A failure to exercise an adequate duty of care would presumably be negligent. Guilt, as I understand it, applies to criminal and not civil laws.

          2. de Villiers, why so rude? I’m disagreeing with your argument, not attacking you personally. Chill.

            Your first argument is to suggest there is a legal or moral difference between active (or “external”) and passive (“internal”) choices, and this is what I addressed and refuted. The sentence you quote is a separate statement regarding the law. No issue there.

            If you didn’t understand the analogy, what prevents you making a response to the refutation itself which I accompanied with an example in law – or do you now agree you were in fact wrong?

            The analogy refers to your incorrect assumption that passive choices were less culpable than active ones. You seem to have got the gist of that in spite of your protestations to the contrary – a passive choice still makes you negligent and thus liable. Or are you now trying to strawman with equivocation over the type of liability?

          3. de Villiers 31 May 2013, 11:38am

            It was not my intention to be rude – we all have difficult days. I offer my apologies.

            The distinction between external and internal preferences is at the heart of external preference utilitarianism. It was propounded by Dworkin. It resolves the danger in Mill’s utilitarianism where the greatest good could include the denial of rights to a smaller group.

            The external preferences are excluded from the greatest good in order to prevent such subjugation. The internal preference only are counted – which enables the greatest good to count only what people consider is good for themselves rather than what is good or should happen to others.

            Here, the KKK sought to exercise external preferences – that is the denial of the rights of others by taking steps to deny them of their right not to be killed or tortured. They sought to take positive steps to interfere or remove the rights of others.

          4. de Villiers 31 May 2013, 11:41am

            The Christians here sought to exercise internal preferences of not dealing with homosexuality or gay people. They did not seek to prevent the gay people from exercising their rights – they asked that other people serve them and did not try to prevent others from doing so.

            They asked the court for an exemption from having to serve gay people – not to have the right never to do so. The exemption would apply where it was possible for someone else to perform the service as a reasonable adjustment.

            Their actions were the opposite of the KKK. They sought not to take steps to interfere with the rights of others. Rather, they sought the right not to engage with others but to let others fulfill the others’ rights.

            Regardless, the equalities law permits no such distinction. I have not understood your critique to this theory of external preference.

          5. de Villiers 31 May 2013, 11:45am

            I also still do not understand your driving analogy. In England, as I understand it, everyone owes to each other a positive duty of care. That is, they are required not to be so negligent as to cause an injury to another person, so in this way breaching that duty.

            This is a positive obligation to perform a certain act. So if a person drives without care and crashes into someone, they are in breach of the positive requirement to show care and attention.

            I cannot see how the positive obligation not to be negligent when driving a car reacts with internal and external preferences of desire and want. It would be an internal preference to want to buy a BMW. It would be an external preference to try to prevent one’s neighbour from owning and buying a BMW. One counts the first desire as part of the utility calculation. One discounts the second desire as part of the utility calculation.

          6. de Villiers 31 May 2013, 11:49am

            I also should say that I do not support the acts of these Christian employees wanting not to serve gay people. They are employees (of the state) and should serve everyone equally.

            My original point was to say that the acts of the KKK were not comparable to the wants (and non-acts) of these Christian employees. The KKK took steps to attack others and remove their rights. The employees wanted not to remove others’ rights but merely not be the ones to facilitate their consumption.

          7. I understand the definition (although your explanation was interesting), my point is that it is not getting applied correctly for this context in my view. There is a fundamental issue with accommodating “internal preference” as a passive response to a scenario which morally or legally requires action.

            By virtue of being in public office serving the democratic will and refusing to discharge the full obligations placed on one, what appears to be a matter of internal preference becomes externally expressed; there is indeed a “positive obligation to act”. This is the same argumentation you use to try to refute the driving analogy, is it not?

            A suitable expression of internal preference would be to withdraw yourself from an office you could not fulfil as required by society. By corollary if all employees were to simply refuse their duty, they would inevitably “prevent gay people from exercising their rights”, and this could not be seen as an “internal” expression in that context.

          8. de Villiers 31 May 2013, 3:28pm

            Yes I agree. The law can make no recognition of these internal preferences where it conflicts with actions required as part of the contractual employment obligations. The employees were required to perform the action of serving gay people. Their internal preferences conflicted with this. Their option was to leave their post or to perform their obligations.

            I also agree slightly but not in totality with the total withdrawal scenario. If all employees withdrew then no-one could be married. But then the state would require other state employees to do it or would employ others to do. But people are free to retire their labour and to leave their job – the state cannot require people to be employed in such posts.

            My original point, though, was not to say that these individuals should be criticised less for refusing to act. It was to say that there was a very big difference between the KKK which sought to lynch black people and these employees who sought to avoid gay people.

          9. de Villiers 31 May 2013, 3:30pm

            Our rights exist even when they are not upheld. Otherwise, one would have to say that rights can never exist as there will always be someone within the state who has the choice not to enforce the protection of the rights.

          10. Midnighter 31 May 2013, 5:01pm

            Ok. So summarising the gist of of the principle you were employing, externally expressed preferences (or as I see it “imposing ones views on another”) should not be accommodated. Fair?

            1) you agree above that in this case the individuals – by ignoring their duties – would have been imposing their views.
            2) the KKK seek to impose their views

            I don’t see any difference here in moral terms. Only had they left their employment would they have legitimately expressed their internal preference and thus differed from the KKK.

          11. de Villiers 31 May 2013, 5:15pm

            I consider that you cannot interfere with rights but that you can interfere with liberties.

            Rights are things to which you are entitled as of right e.g. minimum wage, not to be assaulted, not to be falsely imprisoned, not to be discriminated against. It creates a duty on other persons to provide you with those rights or to behave in a certain way not to infringe them.

            Liberties are things to which you are entitled in the space protected by your rights. Others have “no right” that you cannot do this.

            For instance, if you wanted to change your hair colour to red. It is a liberty because you cannot force someone to provide you with hair colour or to make the colour that you want. A different person in the shop could buy all the hair dye to stop you having it or the shop person could refuse to sell. However, your right not to be assaulted or imprisoned would physically protect you when making the purchase and when putting the colour into your hair.

          12. de Villiers 31 May 2013, 5:21pm

            So it would be acceptable for the person to impose their views by buying all the hair colour but not by infringing an actual right such as the person’s right not to be harmed or imprisoned.

            Similarly, I am sure that people in France used to be unhappy with the way that I used to dress when in the Marais in Paris. My liberties to dress as I wanted was protected by by rights that they not assault me or steal my money once it was mine. They could, however, have interfered with my rights by threatening somehow to have me be disinherited or by imposing conditions to inherited money.

            Others also tried to impose their views – but not by infringing my actual claim rights to which I referred above.

          13. de Villiers 31 May 2013, 5:25pm

            Here, the Christians tried to argue that gay people and employers did not have a claim to their behaviour – that the right of gay people to be married did not impose a duty on them individually to perform the legal acts.

            The court judgment found that it was the employer who had the right that the employees perform the gay marriages – their right that the employee perform their role imposed a duty on the employees to perform it.

            The court did not find for the actual gay people themselves who wanted to be married. The rights of the gay people to be married imposed a duty not on the individual employees but of the state to provide them with the marriage only once such a marriage had been made available by laws.

          14. de Villiers 31 May 2013, 5:30pm

            The employees here thought that their refusal to perform the marriage did not infringe the right of the gay people to be married because the state could still make its duty through other people. Therefore, these employees would not have infringed the rights of the gay persons wanting to be married.

            To that extent, the employees thought that their withdrawal from certain duties imposed upon them did not take away from the rights of gay people, who would still be married by other state employees. They did not argue that gay people should not have the right to be married any more than doctors who oppose abortion in England have the right to stop abortions – instead they have the right not to perform them and for other doctors to do them.

            The KKK, however, positively sought to interfere with the actual rights of black people not to be killed or assaulted or falsely imprisoned. They broke their duties to those that they hurt and killed, infringing the rights of the black people.

          15. de Villiers 31 May 2013, 5:32pm

            In this way, the KKK really wanted to interfere and breach the rights of black people by infringing their rights not to be assaulted.

            The employees did not want to interfere and breach the rights of gay people to get married. They asked that others perform those functions instead, but that the gay people should still have their right to be married.

            I considered, therefore, that the person’s comparison of the employees to the KKK was wrong.

          16. Midnighter 31 May 2013, 7:34pm

            I appreciate your definition of rights and liberties, very nicely put.

            I think you ascribe motivations to the two defendants that are unduly charitable. Their reported comments and actions demonstrate that that they hold strong Christian views that are consistent with those of many Christian groups who seek to block equal marriage and debase same sex relationships. We have good reason to believe they would want to do the same.

            Knowing that there are practical limits to drawing in staff elsewhere, they must have considered that their actions would have potential to disrupt the rights of gay people. I thus don’t agree with your unqualified claim that they thought they did not infringe on others’ rights.

            I thus do not agree that it is justified to claim that they were merely trying to exercise their religious expression within the confines of their rights, but rather that they were very much interested in exceeding their rights by impinging on the rights of others, much as the KKK.

          17. de Villiers 1 Jun 2013, 9:55am

            Well I think that we have come to the end, then. It was my understanding that the basis of the employees’ claims was that their employers could make the reasonable adjustment of choosing that other staff perform the gay marriages but that the employers did not want.

            I also think that there is a distinction between not providing someone with an entitlement – such as a legally required benefit and activity taking away something – such as a person’s life or health by beating them. Otherwise, a failure of a person to pay a black employee the minimum wage would be analogous to that employer behaving like the KKK.

          18. Midnighter 4 Jun 2013, 12:11pm

            I think that distinction is skewed by the example you draw from – you are comparing outcomes with entirely different magnitudes of effect on the individual. Were the comparison a case where a KKK member seeking to block black people from riding a bus by refusing to sell them tickets, that is a more equivalent scenario in my view. The KKK were not just about lynching, historically, and nor are they now; they used all manner of tactics to “harrass” as the OP put it.

            Even were there not good cause for distrusting the intent of this behaviour as outlined above, there is considerable precedent for the swift escalation to extremism – and substantial reduction of rights – from such “principles”. In this instance I view the claims to religious integrity as nothing more than a smokescreen, in the same way that the KKK have always strived for a veneer of civility by associating themselves with popular causes and religion.

    2. Definitely comforting that these people are all going down in history as utter bar stewards.

      No hiding in the digital age. Their bigotry will be there for all to see indefinitely, barring some kind of disaster, and probably even then somewhere-or-other.

      And when people look back, and see and are nauseated by the disgusting, hateful, spiteful conduct of these miserable gits, I really hope it’s pointed out to them that by the 2010s, society in general was more enlightened than not on this issue, and plenty of evidence was available to show how illogical homophobia was.

      It wasn’t like, say, a century or two before, where most were homophobic, and you could only attach limited blame to such people on an individual level, as they mostly knew no better and had been extensively conditioned. There is no excuse these days, and “religion” is no exception.

  4. At last, ECHR des something right.

    This was really the only sensible outcome and am glad the claimants lost. About time too.

    1. It does most things right, it’s only the screaming tabloid press that gives the impression otherwise by highlighting exceptional cases, and often blaming Human Rights when they have nothing to do with a scenario (like good ol’ Health & Safety). But don’t be surprised to see this ruling as something to bash the Human Rights legislation with too.

      1. That There Other David 28 May 2013, 10:54pm

        Well said. A quick glance at the EHCR website shows just how much good work they do, yet none of that ever gets reported by our press here. It doesn’t follow their anti-europe agenda, and with most people in this country still confusing the EU’s European Court of Justice with the Council of Europe’s European Court of Human Rights this is a great way for them to keep up their anti-EU narrative.

      2. It’s a wonder the Ukippers haven’t said anything about this. Normally you can’t shut Farage up about Europe, from what I’ve been told.

        1. Give it time Craig, I am sure he will.

          I note with interest though that there was no coverage of this in the BBC news website too

        2. Maybe he knows the difference between the ECHR and the EU, I know the average UKIP voter struggles with this though.

    2. The ECHR is there to follow and apply the law. If it’s making judgements to which people disagree with, it’s for people to demand their lawmakers to change the law. That’s what governments and legislatures are there for.

  5. Fantastic news, the christian bigots lose again. You’d think by now they would have got the message that irrational beliefs do not allow picking and choosing who you’ll work with. That odious Michenello-Williams and her chums will be crying into their Bibles.

    1. They *have* got the message – they don’t care if they win or lose. It’s all about whining about ‘Christians being persecuted’ and if they win they’re proved right – and if they lose they’re proved right too! They love being martyrs.

      1. Ahh, the god complex, I have a suspicion that they believe they know “gods” mind better than “he” does, its a pity “he” doesn’t exist though, Maybe “he” could give them a good spanking. If I should be wrong – “he” should be capable of defending his own.
        Queue up more whining though, delusion is not all that amenable to reason.

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 28 May 2013, 8:38pm

      The marriage bill sets it out in very clear terms in regard to religious beliefs. The opposition raised the same nonsense before and after the consultation, during the second reading, in committee and during the third reading. They will never get the message because they’re incapable of discerning the difference between religious and secular as if they are one and the same. Now that we’ve had two vast majorities in the Commons voting for the legislation, they will never be satisfied. Thankfully, they are in a small minority overall. I doubt even Jesus Christ could convince them otherwise.

  6. Yah! they got it right. IMHO.
    Having a religious belief does NOT give you a liscense to persecute or harm OR discriminate or denigrate – however fervently and “deeply held” your personal belief may be – guess thats also two fingers to the two EC Judges who thought that conscience should give the religious a free pass to violate the rights of others!! (but only if your catholic I suspect).

    Unfortunately I doubt this will stop the nutters trying to get exclusive privilage and exemption from the laws all the rest of us are expected to follow.

  7. I’m just going to say this before the inevitable onslaught of bile and misinformation….

    don’t bother to comment.

    WE DON’T CARE!!!!

    1. Actually that was dumb of me. Red rag to a bull. I apologise to you all in advance of what’s to come ;)

  8. Midnighter 28 May 2013, 7:10pm

    It occurs to me this is yet another case sponsored by the Christian Institute where they have backed bigots and lost. I wonder what their total bill for all these failed hate campaigns stands at currently? How many lives that money could have saved or improved?

    If I were a donor I’d be demanding questions of an organisation that shows such poor judgement as to throw money away on prideful things like this. I’d also be concerned about the competence of their legal advice, as they keep getting it wrong. (That means you, Bulls).

    1. “It occurs to me this is yet another case sponsored by the Christian Institute where they have backed bigots and lost.” What a terrible shame. :-D

  9. Oh how my heart bleeds for them. Not.

  10. Exhululath 28 May 2013, 7:27pm

    Great news and good article but, for Grammar’s sake, it’s “ITS executive director”, not “It’s executive director” ;)

  11. Thank gawd these vile, prejudiced, suck-faced “christian” time-wasters have reached the end of their tethers at last.

  12. Excellent news! The Unchristian Institute have been making pompous statements about this for ages. Seems their praying didn’t work. I’ll be waiting for their latest email telling me how persecuted they are. Idiots!

    Imagine if someone had argued that they should be allowed to refuse to serve black people due to ‘religious belief’. What kind of nasty person would seek to discriminate against others like that? They must be really insecure.

    Not to mention their ‘pick and choose’ attitude to which parts of the Bible they have to abide by.

    1. It’s really wonderful how quiet they go about God answering their prayers on the occasions He all too evidently doesn’t, isn’t it?

    2. Yes, and so very predictable. I got their silly little email soon after I commented yesterday and there wasn’t a mention of how ‘god’ had ignored all their prayers. In fact, they even tried to downplay their defeat.

      They are totally deluded.

  13. A loss of the right to use your employment as a means of discriminating against others will be spun as an infingement of religious freedom. Watch this space.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 28 May 2013, 8:02pm

      The argument was already spun prior to Ladele and McFarlane taking it to the ECHR. Public servants are subject to the law of the land regardless of religious beliefs. If a civil servant working for any other government department refused to carry out all the responsiblities of their jobs, they’d be sacked. This is no different. Religious beliefs aren’t exceptional and should not be allowed to interfere in the way one performs one’s job serving the public. I can’t imagine Ladele has refused to marry a divorced hetero couple.

      1. Given that fundies have higher divorce levels than normal people, I don’t think so either!

  14. Robert in S. Kensington 28 May 2013, 7:59pm

    Ladele and McFarlane were public servants paid by the taxpayers. The marriage bill clearly sets out the protections for religious belief provided such beliefs don’t infringe upon the equality laws in the delivery of goods and services. It doesn’t get any clearer than that. Well done, ECHR, a goo decision this time.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 28 May 2013, 7:59pm

      …good decision…

  15. At last some good news, let this be a lesson to managers to have some diversity/equality contract before doing the hiring.

  16. johnny33308 28 May 2013, 8:22pm

    At last, now not only do we innocent LGBT people suffer the consequences of hatred and bigotry, but those directing such unjust actions toward us are now going to reap the repercussions of their own bigotry alongside of us! FINALLY, the bigots will suffer for their disgusting hatred as we have always been forced to suffer and endure, unjustly! What a joyous day this is! JUSTICE!

  17. I support the legal finding, yet I must say as a gay man I probably would not WANT sex therapy from a guy whose religion made him adamantly opposed to providing it to gay people.

    However I cannot help but imagine that there is such a thing as ‘private practice’ in the UK where one can say ‘I would not be an appropriate helper for you, let me refer you to someone else.’

    As for the civil servant, well your job is to execute legal activities documenting things that, whether your religion approves or not, are purely secular. If you can’t do your job then move on.

  18. In your face bigots!!!!

  19. Does McFarlane give advice to unmarried couples? Or is he just discriminating against gays?

    1. Or interfaith couples ? Or couples who work on Saturdays ? Or couples who wear tattoos ? Or couples who eat pork and seafood ? Or couples who wear clothings made with different kinds of fabric ? You know, God hates these people as much as he hates gays, some probably more than he hates gays. But if you can’t attack all of them just aim for the easier targets, us.

  20. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord.

  21. Scum. Gary and Lillian are no better than Hitler.

  22. “Lillian Ladele and Gary McFarlane both refused to work with same-sex couples because of their Christian faith.”

    Imagine how Christians would react if large sections of the population refused to work with them. They’d be foaming more at the mouth and swivelling their eyes faster than they are already. Actually, they’d most probably resort to violent civil disorder.

    Hopefully sometime in the future, religions will be classified as terrorist organisations and banned.

    1. Or as mental disease.

      1. de Villiers 30 May 2013, 11:17pm

        It is clear that neither Filipe nor James wish to live in a democracy.

  23. The Christian Institute and the Christian Legal Centre are closely linked with the US AllIance Defense Fund which provides funds and legal training specifically to launch a barrage of vexatious litigation in the ongoing attempt to gain legal privileges for fundamentalist Christians.

  24. Carl ROwlands 29 May 2013, 10:30am

    by definition, a relgious view cannot impact on the civil.

  25. This is a correct decision. The behaviour of these people has nothing to do with religion. Do they ask if the people they work with are divorced and re-married? No. In that case, they cannot claim religious exemption. They either follow every jot and title of the New Testament or none. They cannot pick and choose and call it religious belief.

  26. Nowhere in the report, nor anywhere in this comments section, does it even say what their job was! It says they wouldnt work with same sex couples. Work with them in what way? Helping them to do what? It says these two people were fired. Fired from what?! What was their job?! Im not saying it would necessarily make much difference, but it is a factor worth including in the story ffs

    1. Look at the last 2 paragraphs of the article.

  27. Jock S. Trap 29 May 2013, 1:43pm

    Good. Common sense prevails.

  28. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  29. Well, I guess they’re getting a good taste of rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s.

    They have a perfect right to their beliefs, however, those beliefs belong in their churches, PERIOD, not in Caesar’s arena because he’s not a happy camper when his well run machinery is interfered with, in any way.

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