Human Rights Act 1998
3.(1) So far as it is possible to
do so, primary legislation and subordinate legislation must be
read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention
(2) This section
(a) applies to primary legislation and subordinate
legislation whenever enacted; . . .
6.(1) It is unlawful for a public
authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention
right . . .
(3) In this section "public authority"
(a) a court or tribunal, and
(b) any person certain of whose functions
are functions of a public nature . . .
(6) "An act" includes a failure
to act . . .
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of
thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom
to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or
in community with others and in public or private, to manifest
his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
2. Freedom to manifest one's religion or
beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed
by law and 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.
The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set
forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination
on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political
or other opinion, national or social origin, association with
a national minority, property, birth or other status.
(b) Relevant Court Cases under Article
9 of the ECHR:
"As enshrined in Article 9, freedom of thought
conscience and religion
is one of the foundations of a `democratic society'
within the meaning of the Convention. It is, in its religious
dimension, one of the most vital elements that go to make up the
identity of believers and their conception of life, but it is
also a precious asset for atheists, sceptics and the unconcerned."Kokkinakis
v Greece: (1994) 17 EHRR 397, para 31
"The right to freedom of religion as guaranteed
under the Convention excludes any discretion on the part of the
State to determine whether religious beliefs or the means used
to express such beliefs are legitimate."Manoussakis
v Greece: (1996), EHRR 387, para 47
Belief means "more than just `mere opinions
or deeply held feelings'; there must be a holding of spiritual
or philosophical convictions which have an identifiable formal
content."McFeekly v UK: (1981), 3 EHRR 161
"The term `beliefs' . . . denotes a certain
level of cogency seriousness cohesion and importance"Campbell
and Cosans v. UK: (1982), 4 EHRR 293 para 36 ( this case related
to Article 2right to education).
In re Crawley Green Road Cemetery, LutonSt
Alban's Consistory Court: December 2000it was taken held
without argument that Humanism was a belief within the meaning
of the Human Rights Act.
from the UN Human Rights Committee on Article
18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
(which is essentially similar to Article 9 of the European Convention):
"Article 18 protects theistic, non- theistic
and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any
religion or belief. The terms belief and religion are to be broadly
construed. Article 18 is not limited in its application to traditional
religions or to religions and beliefs with institutional characteristics
or practices analogous to those of traditional religions."Human
Rights Committee, 1993 (General Comment no 22(48) (Art 18) adopted
on 20 July 1993, CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4, 27 September 1993, p1.)