The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) doing a U-turn? Is it time to break out the champagne?

Over the last few days surprising and unexpected news broke over what appears to be a significant U-turn by the The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on religious rights.

You can read the EHRC press release here. It begins thusly:

Judges have interpreted the law too narrowly in religion or belief discrimination claims, the Commission has said in its application to intervene in four cases at the European Court of Human Rights all involving religious discrimination in the workplace.

If given leave to intervene, the Commission will argue that the way existing human rights and equality law has been interpreted by judges is insufficient to protect freedom of religion or belief.

It will say that the courts have set the bar too high for someone to prove that they have been discriminated against because of their religion or belief; and that it is possible to accommodate expression of religion alongside the rights of people who are not religious and the needs of businesses.

I don’t know about you, but wow.

For a legal analysis I’d suggest the Employment Law Blog.

Here’s Christian Concern’s press release.

Here’s a couple of media reports: BBCDaily Mail

As you can imagine this news has stuck in the throat of some, such as: Stonewall - British Humanist AssociationNational Secular SocietyPink NewsGuardian

Here’s a few Christian responses so far: Protect the PopeSignificant TruthsThe Christian InstituteLife Site NewsRoger PearseCurious Presbyterian

So, is it time to to break out the champagne?

UPDATE: Roger Pearse has just re-blogged on this.

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8 Responses to “The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) doing a U-turn? Is it time to break out the champagne?”

  1. More on “human rights” for Christians in Britain at Roger Pearse Says:

    [...] Following the announcement by the Orwellian-sounding “Equalities and Human Rights Commission that it regrets some of the harassment of Christians in the UK which it funded, on which I posted earlier, “eChurch blog has helpfully listed the resources and online responses.  [...]

  2. Roger Pearse Says:

    I’ve written another article, and I think we need to be wary. Ask yourself why a body like the EHRC would suddenly change tack? The answer must be that this all comes as part of an application to *intervene* in the cases before the euro-court. I infer that they intend to game the Euro-court appeal somehow — perhaps by pretending to be the guardians of human rights, they hope to get their position recognised so that they can close off appeals to Europe in future.

    Long experience of corporate politics teaches me always to look below the surface when something suddenly changes, when none of the people involved have changed, and always to look a gift horse in the mouth.

  3. webmaster Says:

    For anyone reading here’s Roger’s link:

    More on “human rights” for Christians in Britain

    Just added it to the post also Roger.

    And just to say, I know exactly where you’re coming from on this.

    This perhaps really is a case of too good to be true….

  4. peter denshaw Says:

    Stuart

    You might find this interesting too:

    http://faithisnotthesameasreligion1.blogspot.com/2011/07/what-are-implications-of-change-of.html

    I’m of the opinion that even if the EHRC affected European case law in this matter, the net result might be more devastating than liberating…

    P.

  5. Merseymike Says:

    Angela Mason (a Commissioner) has since clarified that the initial press release was somewhat precipitate and that the sort of intervention suggested may not in fact be forthcoming

  6. webmaster Says:

    @Merseymike, yeah I was getting that impression. It’s certainly not clear right now.

  7. Merseymike Says:

    The statement has been published and it is clear that there will be no disagreement with the decisions in the case of Ladele or McFarlane (where the individuals did not wish to offer their services to gay and lesbian people) but that the cases which involved not being able to wear a cross in the workplace will be challenged.

    That seems about right to me

  8. webmaster Says:

    Thanks for that update Merseymike.

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