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Equality Act 2010: McFarlane v. UK

Equality Act 2010: McFarlane v. UK

A Christian, who was sacked by Relate for refusing to provide counselling and sex therapy services to gay couples, in breach of Relate’s Equal Opportunities policy, lost his appeal for direct and indirect religious discrimination and unfair and wrongful dismissal to the ECHR.

The ECHR held that, although Relate had put those holding certain religious beliefs at a disadvantage, the aim of providing the charity’s services so as not to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation was legitimate and the refusal to accommodate views that contradicted such aims was a proportionate means of achieving this legitimate aim.

The fact that Relate had a clear anti-discrimination policy and was acting to implement it was given weight by the court and highlights the importance of having robust and well drafted policies which are communicated to staff.

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