Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, seems a bit confused. He’s complaining about the ‘human rights agenda’ while, at the same time, backing Christians who are bringing court cases under human rights law.
Let’s imagine, for a moment, a Britain in which Mr Nazir-Ali’s hated ‘human rights agenda’ has been repudiated or, perhaps, had never existed in the first place. There are no laws against discrimination, and no signing of the European Convention on Human Rights.
What do people do when they think their religious rights have been infringed at work? Not much. They can hope for a bit of sympathy from their employers but there is certainly no legal redress.
If you decide you don’t want to work according to your employer’s policy, or you don’t want to do part of your job because it’s against your religion, tough shit! You’ll just have to resign or put up with it.
And don’t expect your employer to bend over backwards to accommodate you. In this world without a ‘human rights agenda’ there are no compensatory desk jobs. Employees who demand every Christmas off on religious grounds are regarded as a pain in the arse and told to put up or shut up. If they’ve kicked up a fuss and attacked their employers in the press, the very idea that they would still be working for their long-suffering bosses is simply ludicrous.
In this parallel universe, Lilian Ladele, Gary McFarlane, Shirley Chaplin and Nadia Eweida have long since been told to comply with their employers’ rules or go and find another job.
However, in the real world, British employment law contains protections against religious discrimination and the UK has signed the Convention on Human Rights. Thanks to the ‘human rights agenda’, therefore, Ladele, McFarlane, Chaplin and Eweida were able to bring religious discrimination cases under domestic law and will take their complaints to the European Court of Human Rights this week.
Hopefully, common sense will prevail and all four will lose in Strasbourg as they did in the UK. However, without the much maligned ’human rights agenda’ they wouldn’t have had cases to bring in the first place.
Note: There are lots of people commenting on this case with plenty of opinion and not a lot of knowledge. To avoid making an idiot of yourself with an ill-informed comment, why not read the facts first? You’ll find them here and here.