Freedom of Thought Conscience and Religion in UK Law

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Leading Cases
  • R (Williamson) v Secretary of State for Education & Employment
    • Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
    • 15 November 2001

    (ii) Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

    It is envisaged that it will be needed only for rare cases of relatively serious indiscipline. The parents wish it to be administered in such circumstances because they consider it to be a more efficacious method of securing appropriate discipline. I do not think that it is appropriate to describe a belief that one measure is more effective than another as a philosophical or religious conviction even if the reason for holding that belief is that it is supported by a religious text.

  • R (Williamson) v Secretary of State for Education & Employment
    • House of Lords
    • 24 February 2005

    The atheist, the agnostic, and the sceptic are as much entitled to freedom to hold and manifest their beliefs as the theist. These beliefs are placed on an equal footing for the purpose of this guaranteed freedom. In particular, for its manifestation to be protected by article 9 a non-religious belief must relate to an aspect of human life or behaviour of comparable importance to that normally found with religious beliefs.

  • R (Begum) v Governors of Denbigh High School
    • House of Lords
    • 22 March 2006

    The Strasbourg institutions have not been at all ready to find an interference with the right to manifest religious belief in practice or observance where a person has voluntarily accepted an employment or role which does not accommodate that practice or observance and there are other means open to the person to practise or observe his or her religion without undue hardship or inconvenience.

    Secondly, it is clear that the court's approach to an issue of proportionality under the Convention must go beyond that traditionally adopted to judicial review in a domestic setting. The domestic court must now make a value judgment, an evaluation, by reference to the circumstances prevailing at the relevant time ( Wilson v First County Trust Ltd (No 2) [2003] UKHL 40, [2004] 1 AC 816, paras 62-67).

    I accept that wearing a jilbab to a mixed school was, for her, a manifestation of her religion. But her right was not in my opinion infringed because there was nothing to stop her from going to a school where her religion did not require a jilbab or where she was allowed to wear one. Article 9 does not require that one should be allowed to manifest one's religion at any time and place of one's own choosing. Her family had chosen that school for her with knowledge of its uniform requirements.

  • Hall and another v Bull and another
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 10 February 2012

    The judge concluded that the restriction constituted discrimination and was on the grounds of sexual orientation. Mr and Mrs Bull contend that this conclusion is wrong because they apply the restriction to persons of heterosexual and homosexual orientation alike if they are not married. But, in agreement with Rafferty LJ, that cannot, in my view, be a sufficient answer. This conclusion is not affected by the existence or terms of Regulation 3(4).

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  • Human Rights Act 1998
    • UK Non-devolved
    • January 01, 1998
    ... ... (a) any other right or freedom conferred on him by or under any law having ... 13: Freedom of thought, conscience and religion ... (1) If a court’s ... ...
  • Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011
    • Wales
    • January 01, 2011
    ... ... guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or ... (1) The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom ... the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion ... (2) States Parties ... ...
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014
    • Scotland
    • January 01, 2014
    ... ... 16: Same sex marriage: protection of freedom of expression etc ... (1) For the avoidance of ... —(a) the Convention right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,(b) the Convention right ... ...
  • Bermuda Constitution Order 1968
    • UK Non-devolved
    • January 01, 1968
    ... ... 8. Protection of freedom of conscience ... (a) Rev. III, p. 119 ... the said freedom includes freedom of thought and of religion, freedom to change his religion ... ...
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