The European court of justice’s (ECJ) recent ruling on religious symbols which grants companies the right to ban employees from wearing visible religious symbols will not apply to the UK according to a government Minister.
Europe’s highest court decided on cases involving two Muslim women and their right to wear headscarves at work. The court ruled the garments could be banned, but only as part of a broader policy for all political and religious symbolism in the workplace.
Minister of State, Baroness Williams of Trafford confirmed the ECJ decision would not have a bearing on the UK, she said: “We will protect and uphold the freedoms that have been allowed in this country, as we always have done. It will not affect our domestic law.”
Lord Singh said, “I thank the Government for the clarity and forcefulness of the Statement protecting religious minorities. The law in Europe seems to be in a mess because of the two conflicting judgments. They are conflicting because if the Human Rights Council says that people have the right to manifest their religion, that should be absolute. Otherwise, it becomes very difficult.”
He went on: “Who decides? In France and Belgium, the Governments overrule that judgment. Sikh schoolchildren cannot go to a public school with a turban and people who want a passport photo have to take their turban off. This is just absurd. I do not know whether there is anything the Government can do to explain that absurdity to those in Europe.”
The full debate can be read here.