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"Freedom of Religion is among the most basic of Human Rights and deserves fullest protection of the

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Introduction

"Freedom of Religion is among the most basic of Human Rights and deserves fullest protection of the law." To what extent if any is the principle recognised in the law of England and Wales? Article 9 states that everyone has the right to the freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Recently the EU has taken steps to ensure that all member states have antidiscrimination laws in place to protect religious diversity that is apparent in society today. There are two stages in considering the above statement; to consider the law protects freedom of religion and assessing its effectiveness. Blasphemy is an indictable common law offence, which has a spectrum of arguments for and against the retention of the law. It is a draconian law consisting of blasphemous libel and blasphemy, that latter of which took over from heresy. Lord Scarman defined blasphemous libel in a case in 1979 of Whitehouse v Lemon, where he stated that anything using scurrilous, abusive or offensive language would amount to blasphemous libel. ...read more.

Middle

This has been manifested through the Salman Rushdie Case where it was held that Muslims could not bring a case because their religion was not Christian. This case has been the focal point of the ongoing debate as to whether the law should be extended to include other religions. However it has been argued that it would impossible to extend the law because it cannot be defined as noted by the Law Commission. Moreover, the debate queries whether other sacred institutions should be included, which included Manchester United Football club as a possibility. In essence, the fact that only Christianity is protected doubtlessly proves to be a limitation to the protection of religion. We should also consider that Lord Denning stated blasphemy was a 'dead letter.' Yet the law was used some twenty years in Whitehouse v Lemon. In this case it seems that the state system was not interested in this blasphemous libel case, and it took Mary Whitehouse to bring a private prosecution, therefore this shows that prosecutions are a rarity, which in turn doesn't allow the law the opportunity to be effective in providing protection. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is as the Law Commission stated, it is virtually impossible to extend the law due to the lack of a definition for religion. Secondly, Genuine Occupational Requirements (GOR) will allow for interferences, for example if a faith based care home can show it can only employ people who practice this faith, it is a GOR. In its defence, these will be subject to tight controls and very limited circumstances and GOR's can only be deemed so by an employment tribunal. Finally, this regulation is only available within the workplace, which is perhaps its biggest flaw. It will not protect anyone who is subject to discrimination, harassment or victimisation on the street. But given these issues, it is undeniable that the regulation is a step in the correct direction to ensure the fullest protection for religion. In response to the question, the extent to which the principle is recognised is to an extent limited, as there are many flaws and limitations in the protection of freedom of religion. However, the EER 2003 is possibly signalling a change in the level of which protection is given to various religions. ...read more.

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