Equinet’s Law in Practice Working Group decided to concentrate on Religion and Belief cases in its 2011 report as it was apparent to equality bodies that this area of law was bringing forth a number of controversial and difficult cases which were affecting the fundamental rights of those who hold religion and belief and those who do not. The aim of the report is to highlight and clarify the key areas of debate, as well as to provide some conclusions that can be drawn.
This analysis is set against the background of protection provided by two different systems. Firstly, the EU Equality Directives and in particular the General Framework Directive, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion or belief in employment and vocational training. Secondly, the Council of Europe’s European Convention of Human Rights and in particular Article 9 which provides the right to freedom of religion or belief.
It is also against the background that nearly 87% of 26 EU Member States’ populations adhered to one of the three world religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. This report analyses religious discrimination on Article 9 issues in the sectors of employment, education, the provision of goods and services and public spaces. It also analyses conflicts that can arise between the rights of religious persons and the rights of other groups defined by sexual orientation, gender or children.
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