The claimants had acted as foster carers for several years, but challenged a potential decision to discontinue that when, as committed Christians, they refused to sign to agree to treat without differentiation any child brought to them who might be homosexual. A declaration was sought as to the legality of the proposed decision.
Held: A declaration was refused. The propositions put forward on their behalf were ‘a travesty of reality’.
Munby LJ said: ‘No one is asserting that Christians (or, for that matter, Jews or Muslims) are not ‘fit and proper’ persons to foster or adopt. No one is contending for a blanket ban. No one is seeking to de-legitimise Christianity or any other faith or belief. No one is seeking to force Christians or adherents of other faiths into the closet. No one is asserting that the claimants are bigots. No one is seeking to give Christians, Jews or Muslims or, indeed, peoples of any faith, a second class status. On the contrary, it is fundamental to our law, to our polity and to our way of life, that everyone is equal: equal before the law and equal as a human being endowed with reason and entitled to dignity and respect. . . it is important to realise that reliance upon religious belief, however conscientious the belief and however ancient and respectable the religion, can never of itself immunise the believer from the reach of the secular law. And invocation of religious belief does not necessarily provide a defence to what is otherwise a valid claim.
The authority’s proposed line was not discriminatory: ‘If the defendant’s treatment is the result of the claimants’ expressed antipathy, objection to, or disapproval of homosexuality and same-sex relationships it is clear, on authorities which bind us, namely the decisions of the Court of Appeal in Ladele and McFarlane, that it would not be because of their religious belief. Moreover, the defendant’s treatment of the claimants would not be less favourable than that afforded other persons who, for reasons other than the religious views of the claimants, expressed objection to, or disapproval of, homosexuality and same-sex relationships’
Munby LJ, Beatson J
 EWHC 375 (Admin)
Equality Act 2006, Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007, Fostering Services Regulations 2002, SI 2002/5, European Convention on Human Rights 8 14
England and Wales
Cited – Lindo, By Her Guardian v Belisario 5-Jun-1795
(Consistory Court of London) Sir William Scott considered the notion of marriage: ‘The opinions which have divided the world, or writers at least, on this subject, are, generally, two. It is held by some persons that marriage is a contract merely . .
Cited – Turner v Meyers (falsely calling herself Turner) 6-May-1808
Sir William referred to the view of ‘the mysterious nature of the contract of marriage, in which its spiritual nature almost entirely obliterated its civil character’ as a notion that prevailed in the dark ages: ‘In more modern times it has been . .
Cited – E, Regina (on The Application of) v Governing Body of JFS and Another SC 16-Dec-2009
E complained that his exclusion from admission to the school had been racially discriminatory. The school applied an Orthodox Jewish religious test which did not count him as Jewish because of his family history.
Held: The school’s appeal . .
Cited – KC and Another v City of Westminster Social and Community Services Dept. and Another; Westminster City Council v C and others CA 19-Mar-2008
A ‘marriage’ though valid under both Sharia law and the lex loci celebrationis despite the manifest incapacity of one of the parties was not, on grounds of public policy, entitled to recognition in English law.
The 2005 Act has not abolished . .
Cited – Hyde v Hyde and Woodmansee 20-Mar-1866
A marriage contracted in a country where polygamy is lawful, between a man and a woman who profess a faith which allows polygamy, is not a, marriage as understood in Christendom; and although it is a valid marriage by the lex loci, and at the time . .
Cited – Bowman v Secular Society Limited HL 1917
The plantiff argued that the the objects of the Secular Society Ltd, which had been registered under the Companies Acts, were unlawful.
Held: The House referred to ‘the last persons to go to the stake in this country pro salute animae’ in 1612 . .
Cited – Regina v Secretary of State for Education and Employment and others ex parte Williamson and others HL 24-Feb-2005
The appellants were teachers in Christian schools who said that the blanket ban on corporal punishment interfered with their religious freedom. They saw moderate physical discipline as an essential part of educating children in a Christian manner. . .
Cited – McFarlane v Relate Avon Ltd CA 29-Apr-2010
The employee renewed his application for leave to appeal against refusal of his discrimination claim on the grounds of religious belief. He worked as a relationship sex therapist, and had signed up to the employer’s equal opportunities policy, but . .
Cited – Ladele v London Borough of Islington CA 15-Dec-2009
The appellant was employed as a registrar. She refused to preside at same sex partnership ceremonies, saying that they conflicted with her Christian beliefs.
Held: The council’s decision had clearly disadvantaged the claimant, and the question . .
Cited – Campbell and Cosans v The United Kingdom ECHR 25-Feb-1982
To exclude a child from school for as long as his parents refused to let him be beaten ‘cannot be described as reasonable and in any event falls outside the State’s power of regulation in article 2’. The Convention protects only religions and . .
Cited – The Moscow Branch of The Salvation Army v Russia ECHR 5-Oct-2006
The Salvation Army complained that the respondent had refused to allow its registration as a religious association, thus denying its members the right to practice their religion.
Held: The court stressed both the importance of the rights . .
Cited – Palau Martinez v France ECHR 16-Dec-2003
A decision of the French court that the children should live with their father, and not with their Jehovah’s Witness mother, was based decisively on its view of the mother’s religious practices and was discriminatory; although the protection of the . .
Cited – Leyla Sahin v Turkey ECHR 29-Jun-2004
(Grand Chamber) The applicant had been denied access to written examinations and to a lecture at the University of Istanbul because she was wearing an Islamic headscarf. This was prohibited not only by the rules of the university but also by the . .
Cited – EB v France ECHR 22-Jan-2008
The claimant, a homosexual woman, complained that her homosexuality had meant her disqualification from adopting a child.
Held: There is no right to foster, but the provision was an unlawful discrimination. The denial of adoption to a woman in . .
Cited – Eweida v British Airways Plc CA 12-Feb-2010
The court was asked whether, by adopting a staff dress code which forbade the wearing of visible neck adornment and so prevented the appellant, a Christian, from wearing with her uniform a small, visible cross, British Airways (BA) indirectly . .
Cited – Kalac v Turkey ECHR 1-Jul-1997
In exercising his freedom to manifest his beliefs an individual ‘may need to take his specific situation into account.’ ‘The Commission recalls that the expression ‘in accordance with the law’, within the meaning of Article 9(2), requires first that . .
Cited – Thlimmenos v Greece ECHR 6-Apr-2000
(Grand Chamber) The application of a rule that a felon could not become a chartered accountant infringed the rights under article 14, taken in conjunction with article 9, of a pacifist convicted of the felony of refusing to perform military service. . .
Cited – Copsey v WWB Devon Clays Ltd CA 25-Jul-2005
The claimant said that his employer had failed to respect his right to express his beliefs by obliging him, though a Christian, to work on Sundays.
Held: The appeal failed. ‘The Commission’s position on Article 9, as I understand it, is that, . .
Cited – In re P and Others, (Adoption: Unmarried couple) (Northern Ireland); In re G HL 18-Jun-2008
The applicants complained that as an unmarried couple they had been excluded from consideration as adopters.
Held: Northern Ireland legislation had not moved in the same way as it had for other jurisdictions within the UK. The greater . .
Cited – National Secular Society and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Bideford Town Council Admn 10-Feb-2012
The claimant challenged the placing of a prayer on the agenda of the respondent’s meetings.
Held: The claim succeeded. The placing of such elements on the Agenda was outside the powers given to the Council, and the action was ultra vires: . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Children, Discrimination, Human Rights
Updated: 13 January 2022; Ref: scu.430083