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Filtered by: Freedom of Conscience

Wales: Parents Lose Right to Withdraw Children from Sex Ed

January 21, 2020, United Kingdom

Following plans first proposed in a government consultation last year, parents of children attending Welsh schools will no longer have a legal right to withdraw their children from compulsory relationships and sex education (RSE), as well as and religious education (RE) classes.

Freedom of Conscience Rights of Parents

"Parental Pin" Policy Prompts Legal Action and Debate in Spain

January 20, 2020, Spain

A new policy aimed at affirming parental authority in Spanish schools in Murcia has made national headlines in the country. The so-called 'Parental Pin' would oblige schools in the autonomous region of Murcia to seek the permission of parents for student participation in extra-curricular activities, including lessons and workshops on LGBT issues given by external speakers.

Freedom of Conscience Rights of Parents

European Parliament Speaks Out against Christian Persecution in Algeria

December 2, 2019, European Institutions (EU, ECHR, et.al.)

The European Parliament adopted a resolution which calls "for an end to violations against the freedom of Christians and other religious minorities to worship."

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Religion

Pastor Sues After Being Forced out of job and Harassed over Pride Tweet

December 1, 2019, United Kingdom

A Christian pastor and school caretaker, who received abuse and threats for a June 2019 tweet about LGBTQ Pride has taken legal action against the school which he felt forced to leave.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

High Court Permanently Bans Protests against "No Outsiders" School Programme

November 26, 2019, United Kingdom

A High Court judge ruled in favor of an exclusion zone around a school in Birmingham permanent, preventing parents from protesting outside the grounds against the "No Outsiders" primary school programme that teaches about LGBT relationships. Many parents and activists claim the programme contradicts their faith and is not "age appropriate." A temporary exclusion zone was first imposed by the courts in the summer after months of protests outside Anderton Park Primary School by mostly Muslim parents. Birmingham City Council claimed that the order was sought from the courts over safety concerns.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion Rights of Parents

Second investigation: Finnish Christian MP investigated for 2004 pamphlet on homosexuality

November 5, 2019, Finland

On November 4th, the Finnish State General Prosecutor issued a press release announcing the launch of a pre-trial investigation into the publication and distribution of the 2004 pamphlet "Mieheksi ja naiseksi hän heidät loi" (in English, “Male and female He created them”), authored by Päivi Räsänen, the Finnish politician investigated by the police for a tweet in June 2019 quoting the Bible on the issue of homosexuality. Although the pamphlet was printed 15 years ago, it will be included in the case against the Christian politician because it is still “available online.” Räsänen, who served in the past as Minister of the Interior of the government of Finland, risks being accused under Section 10 of the Criminal Code of Finland for “ethnic agitation,” a crime punishable with a fine or prison.

Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Victory for Christian Refugees at European Court of Human Rights

November 5, 2019, France

Victory in international court bolsters protections for Christians who face life-threatening persecution in home countries.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Safety Fears for Iranian Convert to Christianity Facing Threat of Deportation

October 4, 2019, Germany

An Iranian Christian woman living in the state of Hesse in Germany fears for her life if she is forced to return to Iran, due to strict anti-conversion laws. The woman known as "Mahsa" fled Iran and traveled to Germany in 2015, after an attempted arrest by the religious police for her conversion to Christianity. A recent decision by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) denying her asylum limits Mahsa's options going forward.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Tribunal Rules Biblical View of Sexes "Incompatible with Human Dignity"

October 2, 2019, United Kingdom

A Christian doctor has lost an employment tribunal case, where he alleged that the Department of Work and Pensions breached his freedom of thought, conscience and religion pursuant to the Equality Act. Disability assessor, Dr. David Mackereth claimed discrimination on part of the Department of Work and Pensions for failing to accommodate his refusal to use pronouns which did not correspond with the biological sex of clients. In its decision, the panel stated that Dr. Mackereth's belief that "the Bible teaches us that God made humans male or female" was "incompatible with human dignity."

Contractual Freedom Equality Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Medical Professionals Call for Conscience Safeguards if Northern Ireland Liberalizes Abortion Law

September 28, 2019, United Kingdom

Northern Ireland Minister received correspondence from more than 700 medical practitioners calling for conscience protections which would allow Christians and conscientious objectors within the profession the statutory right to refuse to participate in abortions.

Contractual Freedom Equality Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience

Italian Court Ruling Opens the Door For Assisted Suicide in Italy

September 24, 2019, Italy

After surviving a 2014 car accident which resulted in tetraplegic paralysis and blindness, Italian disc Jockey Fabiano Antoniani (DJ Fabo) traveled to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to end his life. The subsequent ruling of the Italian Constitutional Court over proceedings made against his accomplice now opens the door for the legalization of assisted suicide in Italy.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Conscience

Finnish Politician Investigated for Hate Crime for Sharing Bible Verse

August 27, 2019, Finland

The Helsinki Police Department announced it had opened pre-trial investigations into Päivi Räsänen, a Christian Democrat MP, for her criticism of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland's (ELCF) participation in the Helsinki LGBT Pride events in June. She posted a photograph of Romans 1:24-26 from the New Testament on Facebook and wrote "How does the foundation of the church’s teachings, the Bible, fit with elevating sin and shame as reasons for pride?"

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Counsel for University of Sheffield: Christian Views Should Not be Expressed in Public Forum

March 13, 2019, United Kingdom

During the Court of Appeal hearing in the case of Felix Ngole, the University of Sheffield graduate student in social work who was dismissed from the program after he expressed his Christian views about marriage on Facebook, counsel for the university said no social worker should be allowed to express such views.

Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression

Doctors Claim their Concerns about Abortion Legislation in Ireland Not Taken Seriously

December 3, 2018, Ireland

Dozens of its members stormed out of the "Extraordinary General Meeting" of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) concerning the Irish abortion bill on December 2nd. The members protested that their concerns and objections were not taken seriously and the ICGP “refused to accept members’ motions from the floor.” The spokesperson for the group of approximately 80 doctors, Dr Andrew O'Regan, told the media: "We feel disrespected and not listened to by our own college board."

Freedom of Conscience

Anti-Discrimination Law Expanded in Switzerland

November 28, 2018, Switzerland

The Swiss Ständerat (Council of States) passed a law on November 28th adding discrimination based on sexual orientation to the existing criminal law prohibiting discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or religion. A broader version of the legislation, which included "gender identity" was passed by the Nationalrat (National Council) in October. Critics of the law noted that it could restrict freedom of expression and conscience, particularly for those who hold a traditional view of sexuality and marriage. Those who violate the law could face a prison sentence of up to three years.

Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Militant Equality Laws

Parents Threaten Action against School that Required Children to Participate in Gay Pride Parade

November 20, 2018, United Kingdom

In November, several parents of children who were required to participate in a "Proud to be me" pride parade at the Heavers Farm Primary School in South East London threatened legal action. Despite numerous complaints from parents, they were informed that no opt-outs would be allowed. Parents, including Izoduwa Adhedo, reported that they were treated dismissively and victimized following their complaints. "I wasn't even trying to stop the Pride event. I just wanted my child to receive an education, rather than indoctrination," Adhedo said.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Religion Rights of Parents

Scottish Campaign calls Believers 'Bigots'

October 22, 2018, United Kingdom

An anti-hate crime campaign One Scotland, launched in September 2018 by the Scottish police and government, includes a poster directed toward religious believers which reads (in part), “Dear Bigots, you can’t spread your religious hatred here. End of sermon. Yours, Scotland.” Other posters in the campaign were directed toward 'transphobes' and 'homophobes.' Critics of the campaign have noted that it singles out religious believers and calls them bigots without any qualification, and it is based on a political ideology which discriminates against those who hold traditional views.

Equality Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Negative Stereotyping

Anti-Abortion GPs Argue Against Being Forced to Refer Patients

October 3, 2018, Ireland

A draft of abortion legislation provided that doctors, nurses, and midwives who have a conscientious objection to abortion must refer their patients to another provider who will perform the abortion. The National Association of GPs (NAGP) voted to "advocate for conscientious objection, without obligation to refer" and for an "opt-in" system, where medical professionals register their willingness to perform the procedure, rather than an "opt-out system.

Freedom of Conscience

Abortion-Specific Conscience Clause Targeted by French Socialists

September 27, 2018, France

An attack on the freedom of conscience of doctors and medical staff was launched on the 27th of September in the French parliament by socialist senators including former Minster of Families Laurence Rossignol. They want to remove the specific conscience clause for doctors covering abortions, because it is already covered by the Public Health Code.

Freedom of Conscience

Government Fired Doctor for View that Gender is Determined by Biology

July 8, 2018, United Kingdom

Dr David Mackereth was deemed "unfit" to work as an assessor at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over his refusal to use transgender patient's preferred pronouns because of his view that gender is defined by biology and that God made humans male and female. The Equality Act identifies those undergo or who propose to undergo gender reassignment as part of a protected class. Failure to use preferred pronouns is interpreted as unlawful discrimination.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Militant Equality Laws

High Court Upholds "Buffer Zones" around Abortion Clinic; Appeal Filed

July 2, 2018, United Kingdom

The High Court of England and Wales upheld a “buffer zone” imposed by Ealing Council, west London, around a Marie Stopes abortion clinic. High Court Judge Mark Turner said that Ealing Council in London was justified in creating a 328-foot exclusion zone to prevent any pro-life gathering or speech, including prayer, within 100 meters of the clinic. Two women plan to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression

Coalition Withdraws CDU Candidate for Constitutional Court Due to Criticism of Sex Ed

June 29, 2018, Germany

Just days before the parliamentary vote on the election of a judge to the state constitutional court, the CDU, Greens, FDP and SSW withdrew their nomination of Hamburg lawyer and law professor Christian Winterhoff due to his conservative views on the sexual education of children.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Polish Supreme Court Rules against Printer; Tribunal Reversed in 2019

June 14, 2018, Poland

Poland's Supreme Court ruled against a printer who refused to create a roll-up banner for an LGBT business group because he did not want to "promote" the gay rights movement, citing his Catholic religious beliefs. The Court held that although there may be legally justifiable reasons to refuse services based on religious objections, in this case they did not apply. UPDATE: In June 2019, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the law the printer was convicted under was unconstitutional, because punishment for refusing to provide services on the grounds of beliefs interfered with the service providers’ rights to act according to their conscience.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Militant Equality Laws

Sinn Féin Politician Suspended for Voting against Abortion Referendum

March 21, 2018, Ireland

Member of the Irish Parliament, Carol Nolan TD was suspended from the left-wing Irish political party Sinn Féin for a period of three months after voting against a bill which would allow a Irish referendum on the Eighth Amendment which effectively bans abortion. Nolan said, "I voted according to my conscience and did not vote in favour of the legislation put before me as it was greatly at odds with my strong pro-life values."

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience

Canada Summer Jobs Funding Program Becomes Religious Freedom and Conscience Rights Controversy

March 20, 2018, Canada

The Canada Summer Jobs program funding application for 2018 requires that applicants sign a statement supporting, among other things, abortion and transgender rights in order to be eligible for funding. Hundreds of applicants, including Christian charities, pro-life groups, and churches have refused to sign the attestation because of the government's positions on moral issues.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Contractual Freedom Equality Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion Militant Equality Laws

Pharmacist’s Conscience Rights Appeal Dismissed

December 22, 2017, France

France's highest administrative court refused to hear the appeal of a pharmacist who was sanctioned for refusing to sell an IUD.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Conscience

London Assembly Passed Motion to Clarify Police Power in "Buffer Zones"

December 21, 2017, United Kingdom

On December 21, 2017 the London Assembly passed a motion calling on the mayor to “clarify the powers available to [police] to arrest and prosecute” pro-life campaigners who pray near abortion clinics, accusing them of “obstruction, intimidation and harassment” and “threatening behavior.”

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression

European Parliament Classifies Laws against Abortion as “Violence Against Women and Girls”

September 12, 2017, European Institutions (EU, ECHR, et.al.)

On September 12, 2017, the European Parliament adopted a parliamentary report which charges “the denial of sexual and reproductive health and rights services, including safe and legal abortion, is a form of violence against women and girls” by a vote of 489 in favor, 114 opposed and 69 abstentions.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience

Swedish Prime Minister: "Priests Should Perform Same-Sex Marriages

June 24, 2017, Sweden

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has suggested that all Church of Sweden priests be compelled to perform gay marriages, or "do something else." Currently the Swedish church holds the position that “no priest should be obliged to officiate at the wedding of a same-sex couple.” Löfven said priests who are unable to bless gay marriage are in the wrong vocation and that the Social Democrats are working to ensure that priests "will consecrate everyone."

Freedom of Conscience Militant Equality Laws

Swedish Pro-Life Midwives Fined

May 29, 2017, Sweden

Ellinor Grimmark and Linda Steen are two pro-life midwives who challenged their employment termination cases in court. Grimmark's case was taken to the Labor Court where she lost the case in April 2017. Due to this loss, she has been ordered pay all the court costs and received an invoice from the Jönköping County in the amount of 1 640 000 Swedish Kronor (€168 634). Linda Steen was denied an appeal in the Labor Court, but she will receive an invoice of 1.2 million Swedish Kronor (€123 391).

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Conscience

Reparation Prayers for Abortion Banned by Hospital Management

May 27, 2017, Switzerland

Prayers in reparation for the victims of abortion have been held in the chapel of the University Hospital (CHUV) in Lausanne on the 13th of every month for the past 10 years, organized by the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Pierre-Francois Leyvraz, the CEO of the hospital claimed not to have known about the events when the media contacted him. He informed the SSPX that they would no longer have access to the chapel and that the chapel will be closed on the 13th of each month to prevent the prayer meetings. He noted that abortion is legal and they will not permit people opposed to abortion to meet in the hospital chapel.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Association and Assembly Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression

Medical Director's Dismissal Reversed

May 20, 2017, Germany

On May 19, 2017 the Lüneburg labor court ruled that the termination of Medical Clinic Director Markus Fröhling was unjustified. In February 2017, Fröhling was dismissed after publicly voicing his support for the former gynecology chief physician Thomas Börner, who declined to do abortions in his department. This support caused criticism by both the media and politicians.

Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression

Swedish Labour Court Rules Against Pro-Life Midwife

April 12, 2017, Sweden

The Swedish Labour Court upheld the judgments of the Discrimination Ombudsman and Tribunal Court in the case of Christian midwife, Ellinor Grimmark, who has been denied jobs at several clinics due to her refusal to carry out abortions and her outspoken stance on the matter.

Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression

Court Finds Discrimination against Jehovah's Witness

March 22, 2017, Sweden

The Swedish Court of Appeals concluded that a Jehovah's Witness was discriminated against on the basis of his religious convictions by the public Job Center (arbetsförmedlingen).

Freedom of Conscience

Anti-Gender Ideology Campaign Censored

March 3, 2017, Spain

HazteOir.org painted a bus to circulate around Madrid with the words "Boys have penises, girls have vaginas. Don't be fooled. If you’re born a man, you’re a man. If you’re a woman, you’ll always be a woman" and publicized a pamphlet it created for parents: "Do you know what they want to teach your child at school? The laws of sexual indoctrination." The Madrid City Council authorized the seizure of the bus without a court order on March 2, 2017.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression

General Pharmaceutical Council Launches Guidance on "Religion, Personal Values and Beliefs in Pharmacy Practice"

February 22, 2017, United Kingdom

In May 2017, the British Pharmaceutical Council published new professional standards, stating that pharmacists would have to “take responsibility for ensuring that person-centred care is not compromised because of personal values and beliefs.” The previous conscience "opt-out" provisions were removed. Previously, a pharmacist who did not wish to issue an abortifacient drug could refer the patient to another colleague. In June 2017, the Council developed new guidance called “In practice: Guidance on religion, personal values and beliefs.” This guidance made clear that in some circumstances, pharmacists were expected to dispense a drug against his or her conscience.

Freedom of Conscience

Norwegian Court Ruled Against Catholic Doctor

February 9, 2017, Norway

On February 9, 2017, a Norwegian court ruled against Katarzyna Jachimowicz, a Polish Catholic doctor who sued after she was fired for refusing to insert intrauterine devices (IUDs). Jachimowicz v. the Municipality of Sauherad was the first case in Norway in which a medical professional sued over conscience rights.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Conscience

NHS does not Record Religious Discrimination

February 2, 2017, United Kingdom

The National Health Service has confirmed, in response to a question from a Member of Parliament, that it does not collect information on instances of discrimination against NHS staff on the basis of their faith.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

Magistrate Disciplined for Refusing to Hear Same Sex Parenting Case

January 30, 2017, United Kingdom

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office ordered Susan Preston to stand down from hearing future family cases, after she declined to sit on a case involving same-sex parenting due to her personal views.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression

Swedish Pro-Life Midwife Publicly Bullied by Journalists

January 28, 2017, Sweden

On the national Swedish Morning news, a journalist said: ”Those who are against abortion should be aborted. Retroactively.” And everybody in the panel laughed. Just before that, pictures of Christian midwife Ellinor Grimmark and her attorneys were shown on the screen. This occurred during the week Grimmark's lawyers defended her case in the Swedish Labour Court.

Freedom of Conscience Insult or Incitement

UK Considering Secularist Oath of Allegiance to British Values

December 21, 2016, United Kingdom

The UK government has proposed that all office holders and employees of the State swear an Oath of Allegiance to British Values that conflicts with traditional Christian teaching about sexuality.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression Freedom of Religion

French Politician Fined for Using Word from Bible to Describe Homosexuality

November 4, 2016, France

French politician and former housing minister Christine Boutin was convicted of hate speech on Wednesday by the Court of Appeals of Paris for having called homosexuality an “abomination” in an interview with the political magazine Charles in March 2014.

Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression

Christian Midwife Loses Case Against County Council

November 4, 2016, Sweden

Swedish midwife Linda Steen objected to assisting with abortions for reasons of conscience and as a consequence public hospitals denied her employment. She sued the Sörmland county council for violation of her freedom of conscience and religion. After losing the case, she was ordered to pay 1.2 million Swedish krona for the city's legal expenses.

Access to Justice and Legal Services Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Religion

Christian Bakers Lose Appeal

October 24, 2016, United Kingdom

The owners of Ashers Baking in Belfast lost their appeal of 2015 discrimination conviction for refusing to bake a cake ordered by homosexual activist Gareth Lee showing two Sesame Street characters and the message: “Support Gay Marriage.” The case was heard by the Supreme Court in May 2018.

Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression

Christian Nursing Home Ordered to Allow Assisted Suicide on Premises

October 7, 2016, Switzerland

The home, which belongs to The Salvation Army, had previously contested a Swiss law that allows assisted suicide to take place in charitable institutions, if requested by a patient. They challenged the legislation, saying that it conflicted with their religious beliefs and violated their freedom of conscience. Last week, federal judges rejected their complaint and said the only way the care home could avoid complying with the law was by giving up its charitable status.

Freedom of Conscience

ECtHR Finds Greece Violated Rights of Conscientious Objector

September 15, 2016, Greece

The case concerned the authorities’ refusal to grant a Jehovah's Witness the status of conscientious objector and to allow him to do alternative civilian work instead of military service. The Court held that this was a violation of Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Freedom of Conscience

Four Spanish Bishops Threatened with Prosecution for Criticism of LGBT law

August 31, 2016, Spain

Three of the bishops are being threatened with a criminal complaint for having written and published a condemnation of Madrid’s new “Law of Integral Protection against LGTBIphobia and Discrimination for Reasons of Orientation and Sexual Identity.” The fourth bishop is being criminally investigated for expressing support for the statement of the first three.

Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Expression

Department Store Fires Catholic for His Faith

July 21, 2016, United States

Macy’s department store in New York fired a Catholic employee because he questioned their transgender bathroom policy, even though he told his employer he would enforce the policy.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience Freedom of Religion

Parliamentary Inquiry Finds UK Doctors Risk Losing Jobs For Refusing To Perform Abortion

July 21, 2016, United Kingdom

British pro-life doctors and nurses face hostility, loss of advancement, and pressure to perform or refer for abortions despite legislation guaranteeing their right to conscientiously object, according to a parliamentary inquiry.

Exclusion (of individuals or ideas) Freedom of Conscience

Order of Nuns Fined for Firing Lesbian Teacher

July 14, 2016, Italy

An order of nuns was ordered to pay 25,000 Euros to a teacher for discontinuing her employment based on the incompatibility of her sexual orientation with the Catholic school’s ethos.

Freedom of Conscience Militant Equality Laws