By William Oddie, Catholic Herald
If the Prime Minister doesn’t want this perception to take hold, he had better start listening
[...] Another link between the right to wear the cross and the fight against the government’s intention to legalise same-sex marriage is ironically provided, though tangentially, by the European Court of Human Rights. This is not an institution I am fond of: but it has just handed down a very sensible decision on gay marriage in France, and may well hand down another on the right to wear the cross when it hears the case of two British women who have been told by our courts that they cannot wear this symbol of their religion at work. They will, scandalously, be opposed, on Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone’s orders by British Government lawyers: but they will, ironically, be supported by the government’s own political correctness quango, the Equality and Human Rights Commission. This is another institution the usefulness of which I have not always been convinced by: but it will nevertheless argue in the same European Court of Human Rights test case that workers should have legal protection if they wish to display a token of their religious faith at work.
They may well win their case. When the EU tried to outlaw publicly displayed crucifixes in Schools and hospitals in Italy, Silvio Berlusconi appealed to Strasbourg and won: on the face of it, this seems a similar case. Strasbourg, I have to admit, doesn’t always get it wrong.
It has just, for instance, opined that same-sex couples do not have a human right to marriage. A lesbian couple had tried to establish marriage rights under European anti-discrimination laws but the judges declared that “the European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage”.
“The ruling,” says the Telegraph, “is likely to have an impact on David Cameron’s drive to allow gay marriages.” But are they right? On the face of it, the court seems to be supporting traditional, one man-one woman (in other words, real) marriage: “the court considers that in view of the social, personal, and legal consequences of marriage, the applicants’ legal situation could not be said to be comparable to that of married couples”.