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 protected by Article 9 and the limits to the state’s right to interfere: ‘The Court refers to its settled case law to the effect that, as enshrined in Art 9, freedom of thought, conscience and religion is one of the foundations of a ‘democratic society’ within the meaning of the Convention. It is, in its religious dimension, one of the most vital elements that go to make up the identity of believers and their conception of life, but it is also a precious asset for atheists, agnostics, sceptics and the unconcerned. The pluralism indissociable from a democratic society, which has been dearly won over the centuries, depends on it.’ As to pluralism: ‘pluralism is also built on the genuine recognition of, and respect for, diversity and the dynamics of cultural traditions, ethnic and cultural identities, religious beliefs, artistic, literary and socio-economic ideas and concepts. The harmonious interaction of persons and groups with varied identities is essential for achieving social cohesion.’
‘The State’s duty of neutrality and impartiality, as defined in the Court’s case-law, is incompatible with any power on the state’s part to assess the legitimacy of religious beliefs.’ and ‘The Court points out that, according to its constant case law, the right to freedom of religion as guaranteed under the Convention excludes any discretion on the part of the State to determine whether religious beliefs or the means used to express such beliefs are legitimate.’

CL Rozakis, P
72881/01, [2006] ECHR 828, (2006) 44 EHRR 912, ECHR 2006-XI, 44 EHRR 46
European Convention on Human Rights 9
Cited by:
CitedJohns and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Derby City Council and Another Admn 28-Feb-2011
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 . .
CitedEweida And Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 15-Jan-2013
The named claimant had been employed by British Airways. She was a committed Christian and wished to wear a small crucifix on a chain around her neck. This breached the then dress code and she was dismissed. Her appeals had failed. Other claimants . .

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Human Rights

Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.246588