Current Approaches of the European Courts to Religious Rights and Freedoms
Two Legal Frameworks for Religion in Europe
There are two legal frameworks governing religion and law in Europe.
The First Legal Framework
The first legal framework is article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This consists of: article 9 (1), the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (the forum internum), which is an absolute right under the ECHR and refers to the right to have inner thoughts and beliefs; and article 9 (2), the qualified right to manifest religion (forum externum).
Demonstrating that your right to manifest religion or belief has been restricted involves first showing that the activity in question is, indeed, a manifestation of religion or belief, and second that any restriction does not come within the restrictions provided in article 9(2).
Showing that your activity is a manifestation can be difficult: it means that you must show that it is more than something just motivated by your religion in your particular case. This has led to lots of disputes, including the one before ECHR relating to the Christian cross worn by the BA check-in staff member. Eweida argued that she believed it was necessary to wear the cross, but few Christians agree. Ruling on such questions can lead courts into territory which is probably very inappropriate for them; they end up having to decide what the religion requires, and perhaps unsurprisingly we end up with inconsistent decisions.Continue reading “Current Approaches of the European Courts to Religious Rights and Freedoms”