European court rules on discrimination of UK Christians | News | DW | 15.01.2013
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European court rules on discrimination of UK Christians

The European Court for Human Rights has ruled for the plaintiff in a discrimination case against British Airways by a Christian employee who wanted to wear a crucifix to work. But three other cases were turned down.

The European court on Tuesday made a landmark ruling in favor of a Briton who claimed her employer, British Airways, discriminated against her based on her Christian beliefs.

Nadia Eweida, a check-in clerk, had claimed that the airline company forced her to take off her crucifix for work, in line with company policy which bans staff from wearing visible religious symbols. In November 2006, her employer sent her home for refusing to follow the regulations. Eweida has been seeking damages and compensation due to lost wages as a result.

Eweida took the case to the European court after she unsuccessfully complained to an employment tribunal; the latter found that wearing visible crosses is not obligatory for Christians.

The ruling by the European court represents a successful challenge to what Britain's former Archbishop of Canterbury called the “reigning orthodoxy of diversity and equality" in the United Kingdom.

On the same day, however, the European court ruled against three other Christian Britons, who also took similar cases of discrimination on religious grounds to the court.

One was a 57-year-old nurse, Shirley Chaplin, who, like Eweida, was prevented from wearing her Christian cross at work.

The other two Christian Brits putting forward cases to the European court lost their jobs over their belief that homosexuality is at odds with God's law, and any act that condones it is incompatible with religion. One was a therapist who was opposed to counseling homosexual couples. The last was a registrar who did not want to marry couples of the same sex.

sej/rg (dpa, AFP)